The human cost of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina is going to have an impact on the North American economy. The impact won’t stop at the 49th parallel. Canadians are already feeling the pain at the gas pumps, where prices have risen by 20 cents per litre (approximately 75 cents per US gallon) overnight.

And it goes without saying that there has been a direct assault on people’s property. I have spent a while sifting through photos at There are photos of smashed houses, washed out highways and bridges, boats carried ashore, a van lifted up onto a fence, streets littered with debris, and downed trees.

But those weren’t the photos that grabbed me. Here is a selection of photos that tell the story of the direct human impact of hurricane Katrina; the cost to ordinary men, women and children — families like mine and yours.

The Todd family takes shelter in their laundry room
Meridian, Louisiana (AFP/Getty Images/Marianne Todd)

(no names available)
New Orleans, Louisiana (AFP/File/James Nielsen)

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (AP Photo/Ben Sklar)

Bay St. Louis Emergency Management Agency volunteer crews rescue the Taylor family from the roof of their suburban, which became trapped on US 90 due to flooding.

Yolanda Williams and Patrick and Lonnie Antee
are rescued from their home
New Orleans, Louisiana (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Alex Curtis, 12
Biloxi, Mississippi (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Evelyn Turner cries alongside the body of her common-law husband, Xavier Bowie, after he died in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bowie and Turner had decided to ride out Hurricane Katrina when they could not find a way to leave the city. Bowie, who had lung cancer, died when he ran out of oxygen Tuesday afternoon.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Misanthrope
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 00:00:00

    It is just so sad. I truly wish there was something everyone could do that would make a difference. I could donate to the Red Cross or I can contribute to our work fund that goes to help employees. I have not decided which to do at this point, but all of this just breaks my heart. In one week this story will be secondary news and feature fodder, but people will continue to suffer for a long, long time.


  2. Mary P.
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 08:05:00

    That’s the thing that keeps jolting me. After the waters recede, after the clean-up, after the bodies have been found and properly interred, after the electricity is back and the water running and the sewers functioning: after all that, there will still be nothing there. Nothing. Nothing to go home to.

    And then the real work will begin. Just begin. It’s hard to grasp.


  3. snaars
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 09:47:00

    Here in Lafayette, LA, we are housing around 20,000 refugees. That’s homeless people, it doesn’t include those who are staying here with family or friends, or who can afford to put themselves up somewhere. We have donated some clothes, toys, and two children’s mattresses. I am going to give blood today. We were going to go volunteer to cook some food, but my wife injured her back yesterday so I’m taking the day off to take care of her and the girls. I just wish we could do more. The need is enormous.


  4. Q
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 10:52:00

    I don’t usually announce it when I make a donation to charity, but I’m making an exception in this case.

    Snaars mentions Mercy Corps as a good charity. I see they spend only 8% of donations on administration, which is minimal. I’ve made a donation there, and I encourage others to do the same.

    (Not that you need to announce it to everybody, like I just did!)


  5. snaars
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 13:04:00

    Thanks for urging people to give, Q. It’s desperately needed.

    I don’t know what news they are showing elsewhere around the world, but there’s no way to describe how awful the situation is.

    There has been lawlessness among the people left in New Orleans. The National Guard has deployed 28,000 troops to restore order. There are lots of “looters” with guns interfering with rescue efforts. I don’t know how organized the looters are, but reports were that arsonists set fires to halt buses and ambulances at the Superdome, where tens of thousands are still waiting in the heat with no water, food, or medicine. Is this a hostage situation? It sounds ridiculous, but who knows what these people are thinking.

    Bodies are lying out in the open. Fights are breaking out everywhere as people become more and more desperate.

    Lots of people who have been evacuated still have no food or water. Neighboring areas are absorbing refugees by the thousands, but there’s just no room. I know some have been sent as far as Houston, Texas.

    I’ve read news stories comparing this to September eleventh. Don’t be fooled – this is far worse.


  6. Jack's Shack
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 13:47:00

    This is just craziness.


  7. Q
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 14:33:00

    Jack reports on his blog, Somebody fired at a rescue helicopter Tuesday night, forcing its crew to abandon efforts to evacuate patients from a hospital, a state official said.

    Jack also reports on a hospital that is under siege by looters. Medical staff can’t step outside for fear.

    Are they doing this just for fun? I know people can be wicked sometimes (in the full meaning of the word), especially when no one is in a position to hold them accountable. But I genuinely don’t understand why anyone, in this crisis situation, would attack people engaged in humanitarian work.


  8. The Misanthrope
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 14:47:00

    I used the 800 number for Mercy Corps and donated $100. I don’t normally say what I donate, but if this will inspire others great. I’ll write about this too.


  9. snaars
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 18:12:00

    The people who were left in New Orleans when Katrina struck were the poor, the uneducated, the sick, the elderly, and the stubborn. And, the people who just think nothing can touch them. My guess is that the looters think it’s the end of the world somehow. Or at least civilization. They’ve become psychotic.

    I heard on the radio that the French quarter, the most popular part of the city for tourists, was relatively unaffected. Over the long-term, the city will be rebuilt even stronger. But, at what a cost!


  10. Q
    Sep 01, 2005 @ 22:38:00

    I had also heard that the French Quarter is relatively unaffected, because it’s just a little above sea level. This is good news for those of us who’ve always wanted to visit. But it’s also good news for the city of New Orleans.

    Tourism must account for a big part of the local economy. If the French Quarter can be rebuilt, it will bring vitality to the whole city. It’s a little ray of hope, and I guess we’ll take what we can get just now.


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