Hurricane Katrina “created an area of destruction that is 90,000 square miles, an area larger than the size of Great Britain.” (www.whitehouse.gov) President Bush has declared states of emergency in the affected states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and also in Texas and Arkansas to help make federal assistance available to those who need it. “A vast coastline of towns and communities [in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana] has been flattened; [New Orleans] is submerged.” (www.whitehouse.gov) “The [Louisiana] state secretary of environmental quality, Michael D. McDaniel, said that wildlife habitats along hundreds of miles of coastline had been destroyed and that the hurricane exacerbated the slow coastal erosion that had already made the coast more vulnerable to hurricanes.” (www.nytimes.com) The Mayor of New Orleans reports major fires and gas leaks throughout the city of New Orleans. Flood waters there are contaminated with sewage, bodies and chemicals. It will take months, or perhaps years, and billions of dollars to overcome the effects of this natural disaster.
As a result of Katrina’s destruction, tens of thousands have lost their homes and been displaced. Many have been separated from their families. Others suffer for lack of food, water, or medicine. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost. Sports facilities, convention centers, church meetinghouses and the homes of private citizens all over the country have provided shelter, showers, meals, water and medical assistance to the homeless. “After accepting more than 11,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees, officials said the Astrodome was full and at least temporarily halted the flow of evacuees into the shelter Thursday night.” (www.news.yahoo.com) Refugees are now being housed in the Reliant Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center, other shelters and churches throughout the Greater Houston Area.