|Why was hurricane Katrina so destructive to New
|Question Date: 2019-06-11|
New Orleans is a really interesting city
because it's actually below sea level! Sea
level is the average height of ocean water. Most
land is above sea level, but some parts of land
are actually below sea level. If a part of land
that is below sea level is no where near the ocean
or a river (like Death Valley, California, for
example), then it isn't really at a risk for
flooding. But New Orleans is special because
it's below sea level AND it has a major river
that runs through it as it drains to the ocean.
Water always flows downhill, so technically rivers
that drain to the ocean can't be below sea level
(because water can't flow uphill on its way to the
ocean!). That means parts of New Orleans are
actually below the Mississippi River. So
why isn't New Orleans ALWAYS flooded?!
Because over hundreds of years, the city has been
building levees, which are large walls that
run along the river, to keep the river water out
of the city. For the most part, those levees stop
the river water from flooding the city. But when
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it dropped so
much rain that the river rose and spilled over
the top of the levees, turning many parts of the
city into a lake. Katrina was so destructive
because New Orleans is below sea level and the
levees that were supposed to hold the Mississippi
River out failed.
Much of New Orleans is built below sea
level. There are levees - barriers built to keep
the sea from rushing in. A powerful storm,
which hurricane Katrina was, can b>break those
levees, which in turn allowed the ocean to
flood large parts of the city.
The reason hurricane Katrina itself was so
destructive, unlike any earlier hurricane, is
because Katrina happened to be the first
hurricane since New Orleans was built to hit the
city. Weather experts had known that New
Orleans was a hurricane disaster waiting to happen
for centuries beforehand - ever since the French
governor who built New Orleans in the first place
ignored the advice of his chief engineer not to
build the city where he built it. When Thomas
Jefferson bought New Orleans along with the rest
of the Louisiana Purchase that you will read about
in history class, the United States inherited
the problem that this French governor created.
A lot of New Orleans is below sea level,
which is a big problem when there's a big storm!
The levees and flood walls around New Orleans were
badly built, so they broke open and flooded New
And there were so many people who were still in
New Orleans, with no way to leave.
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