What happened and what went right (and wrong) in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are important questions as violent weather events increase.

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” calls the 1930s Gershwin ballad.  The living usually is easy, except when it isn’t.  And it hasn’t been this year, or in years before.

Especially not on our coastal shores.

Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and the Gulf coast in mid-August this year, with damage estimates in Texas as high as $150 billion and 63 deaths.  Ten days later Hurricane Irma plowed through the Caribbean islands, came ashore in Florida, and finally collapsed in the Mississippi Valley.  Maria destroyed much of the infrastructure and crops in Puerto Rico, with 130 deaths, $100 billion of damage.  In 2012 Hurricane Sandy ravaged mid-Atlantic coastal areas.  In 2005 Hurricane Katrina brutalizes the Gulf Coast from Florida to west Louisiana, provoking heartbreaking losses (over 1,500 deaths, $110 billion of damage).

For these assaults, immediate, life-saving short-term help is crucially important.  But understanding what happened and what went right (and wrong) is also important, especially because hazards increase as ocean warming continues, accelerated by global climate change.

Just such a study was done for Hurricane Katrina.  Tom Travis, a new resident in Academy Village (and a former Navy Captain and squadron commander in America’s nuclear submarine fleet) was the director for the Joint Center of Operational Analysis which did the Department of Defense “after action, lessons learned” analysis of Katrina.

Travis observes that Katrina itself, when combined with the levee breaks, was “unique in that it combined devastation across several states with destruction of a major city, a city that had lost its capability to respond . . . that scales to a major attack on the U.S. homeland.”

In his talk on Wednesday, December 13, at 2:30 pm, Travis will take us through this, and outline the implications.

Written by Ted Hullar, Academy Village Volunteer

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Dec. 13: Hurricane Katrina: Lessons from a Disaster