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Remembering Hurricane Katrina: Preparing for Future Storms

By: Shane Dorrill and Deanne Winslett

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans as a strong Category 3 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of more than 125 miles per hour. Thousands of homes and businesses along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast were destroyed by high winds and a storm surge of more than 26 feet in some areas.

Within hours, several levees surrounding New Orleans were breeched due to the amount of rain. By the afternoon, more than 20 percent of the city was underwater. Thousands of people became trapped in attics or on roofs as floodwaters poured into the city’s Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Within two days, 80 percent of the city was underwater.

More than 1,800 deaths were attributed either directly or indirectly to the storm, and it remains one of the costliest hurricanes on record in the U.S.

The response to Hurricane Katrina remains the largest single disaster relief effort ever undertaken by the American Red Cross. The Red Cross opened nearly 1,400 shelters in 27 states and the District of Columbia and served more than 68 million meals. More than 230,000 Red Cross volunteers responded to help more than four million people who received emergency assistance.

Hurricane Katrina should serve as a reminder to Be Red Cross Ready for hurricanes this season.

To protect life and property during a hurricane:

· Download the free Red Cross app, which offers step-by-step directions for making a family emergency plan, as well as other preloaded preparedness and critical emergency content

· Have a NOAA Weather Radio to receive information from the National Weather Service

· Bring in items, such as lawn furniture, that can be picked up by the wind

· Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.

· Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out

· Fill your car’s gas tank

· Talk with family members and create an evacuation plan, including a plan for where you will meet up and how you will communicate if you are in multiple vehicles and get separated. Include your pets in your plan and keep a list of pet-friendly hotels, motels and shelters along your evacuation route.

· Evacuate if advised to do so by authorities

For more tips, visit the Red Cross Hurricane Safety website.

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