Final Katrina Direct Death Toll At 1,723

Repost from the old blog. This is my tally of the final death toll from Hurricane Katrina from a number of sources. I am not sure if it differs a bit from the official toll, but if it does, I am confident that my total if the better one. It was quoted as the official toll on Wikipedia for a long time.

Update: The indirect Katrina death toll has risen from 1,723 to 4,098 as of March 13, 2007. See my post, Final Katrina Death Toll at 4,081 for details. A list of 1,195 people who were killed in Hurricane Katrina is available on this website here.

For what it’s worth, Seth Abramson, an attorney/poet blogger, has been hammering away at the discrepancies in Mississippi’s death toll for some time now, making various allegations that Haley Barbour is hiding the real death toll in Mississippi.

It is true that the suicide rate in New Orleans went up after Hurricane Katrina for a number of months, but the only figures available are per 1000,000 population figures, and until we can determine the population of New Orleans month by month post-Katrina, there is no way to figure out what that number is.

It is helpful to look at a couple of overviews of what Hurricane Katrina actually was. First, a timeline, and then a fact sheet (both the timeline and the fact sheet are from the producers of Surviving Katrina, a promising documentary directed by Phil Craig and produced by the Discovery Channel. This film will be showing on August 27 at 9 PM across the US:

Timeline

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hurricane Katrina starts forming over the Bahamas and is identified by the National Hurricane Centre at 5 PM as Tropical Depression 12.

Wednesday, August 24

Tropical Depression 12 strengthens into a tropical storm and is named Katrina.

Thursday, August 25

Katrina strikes Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 MPH.
Long-range forecasting predicts Katrina will make landfall in the Florida Panhandle, well to the East of New Orleans. It is expected that Katrina will move immediately in a northward direction.

Friday, August 26

At 5 PM, Hurricane Katrina moves into the Gulf of Mexico and quickly grows into a category 2 hurricane with 100 MPH winds. As Hurricane Katrina enters the Gulf of Mexico conditions are perfect for a hurricane to rapidly intensify:

1) Warm ocean temperatures
2) Moist atmospheric conditions
3) A lack of wind sheer (winds that disrupt the motion of a storm)

High pressures over the Gulf drive Katrina further west. Katrina is moving in a westerly direction and the National Hurricane Center forecast track shifts towards New Orleans. The Florida Panhandle is no longer in Katrina’s sights and landfall is now expected somewhere in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Saturday, August 27

At 4 AM, Katrina is now a Category 3 storm and continues to move in a westerly direction. Katrina also continues to rapidly intensify due to the sustained conditions for hurricane growth in the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane forecast track has Katrina moving northwest over the next 24 hours towards New Orleans at a speed of 7 MPH. Katrina is roughly 435 miles south of the Mississippi River.

A Category 5 hurricane is a very rare occurrence; typically we only see one every two years in the Atlantic. Conditions in recent years, however, have been ideal for the fueling of massive Category 5 hurricanes.

Sunday, August 28

At 1 AM, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 MPH. Six hours later, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH.

The National Weather Service issues this Advisory at 7 AM:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the north central gulf coast from Morgan City, Louisiana eastward to the Alabama/Florida border – including the City of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain – preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

At 4 PM, the National Weather Service continues to update on the potential threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast from storm surge:

Coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels – locally as high as 28 feet – along with large and dangerous battering waves – can be expected near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Some levees in New Orleans area could be overtopped. Significant storm surge will occur elsewhere along the central and northeastern Gulf of Mexico Coast.

Monday, August 29

In the early hours of Monday morning, Katrina begins to weaken and by 2 AM is already classed by the National Weather Service as a Category 4 storm.

At 5 AM, one hour before Katrina’s first landfall, Katrina’s associated storm surge begins to cross Lake Borgne from the Gulf of Mexico and starts to batter the eastern flood defenses of Greater New Orleans. The storm surge is also carried towards the city’s Industrial Canal and Lake Pontchartrain along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Storm surge heights at landfall peaked at around 25 feet as they came ashore – the largest recorded in U.S. history – breaking the previous record set by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Storm surges can be the most devastating part of a hurricane and in Katrina’s case, the storm surges proved much more destructive than the hurricane winds.

Hurricane Katrina makes landfall over the Mississippi Delta as a near Category 4 storm and then makes another landfall on the Mississippi-Louisiana border as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina’s core winds hit the Mississippi Coast and New Orleans experiences the weaker winds on the western side of Katrina.

These winds, moving from the North to the South, create a second storm surge on Lake Pontchartrain – about 11 feet high – which races towards the northern flood defenses of the city, ultimately leading to the breaches in the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals that flood Metropolitan New Orleans.

By 2 PM Katrina has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to move inland. By Tuesday, Katrina weakens to a tropical depression.

Hurricane Katrina Fact Sheet

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, killing over 1,700 people.

  • The confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,723, mainly from Louisiana (1,464) and Mississippi (238). However, 135 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final. Many of the deaths are indirect. It is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.
  • Katrina was the largest hurricane of its strength to approach the United States in recorded history; its sheer size caused devastation over 100 miles (160 km) from the center. The storm surge caused major or catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, including the cities of Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.
  • Katrina was the eleventh named storm, the fifth hurricane, the third major hurricane, and the second category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded, and the third strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane ever recorded.
  • New Orleans’ levee failures were found to be primarily the result of system design flaws, combined with the lack of adequate maintenance. According to an investigation by the National Science Foundation, those responsible for the conception, design, construction, and maintenance of the region’s flood-control system apparently failed to pay sufficient attention to public safety.
  • Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with estimated damages resulting in $75 billion (in 2005 US dollars).
  • > As of April 2006, the Bush Administration has sought $105 billion for repairs and reconstruction in the region. This does not account for damage to the economy caused by potential interruption of the oil supply and exports of commodities such as grain.
  • More than seventy countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million; other large donations were made by Qatar ($100 million), India, China (both $5 million), Pakistan ($1.5 million), and Bangladesh ($1 million).
  • The total shut-in oil production from the Gulf of Mexico in the six-month period following the hurricane was approximately 24% of the annual production and the shut-in gas production for the same period was about 18%.
  • The forestry industry in Mississippi was also affected, as 1.3 million acres of forest lands were destroyed. The total loss to the forestry industry due to Katrina is calculated to rise to about $5 billion.
  • Hundreds of thousands of local residents were left unemployed, which will have a trickle-down effect as lower taxes are paid to local governments. Before the hurricane, the region supported approximately one million non-farm jobs, with 600,000 of them in New Orleans. It is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion.
  • The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Common Ground Collective, Emergency Communities, and many other charitable organizations provided housing, food, and water to victims of the storm. These organizations also provided an infrastructure for shelters throughout Louisiana and other states that held thousands of refugees.
Louisiana:   Mon., Aug. 2, 2006:   1,464
Mississippi: Tue., Jan. 24, 2006:  238
Florida:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   14
Georgia:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Alabama:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Ohio1:       Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  2
Kentucky2:   Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  1
Total:                             1,723

Footnoted totals are controversial. Explanations for controversial totals follows:

1The two Ohio victims are Cassondra Ground, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio, and Thelma Niedzinski, 84, of Norwalk, Ohio. Both were killed in a car accident near Monroeville, Ohio on August 30, 2005. The Ohio State Highway Patrol felt that a wet road caused by Hurricane Katrina caused the car accident. See Ohioans Focus on Helping Katrina Victims, Jay Cohen, Associated Press, August 31, 2005.

2The Kentucky victim was Deanna Petsch, 10, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On August 29, 2005, she fell into a Hurricane Katrina-swollen ditch in Hopkinsville and drowned. See Storm Surge: State Gets Soaked, City Avoids Major Flooding, Homes, Life Lost in Hopkinsville, Sheldon S. Shafer and James Malone, The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, August 31, 2005.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.

2 Comments

Filed under Americas, Health, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes, Louisiana, Public Health, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, South, USA, Weather

2 responses to “Final Katrina Direct Death Toll At 1,723

  1. Great Piece! Love the amount of statistical data.

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