Hurricane Katrina, USA


Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. Low income, elederly, and minority residents in the region were disproportionatly impacted by the hurricane with many loosing their lives and homes. Hurricane Katrina is a landmark moment in environmental justice in that it brought new public attention to discriminatory structural forces that make minority residents particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Basic Data
NameHurricane Katrina, USA
CountryUnited States of America
SiteNew Orleans
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe most destructive storm to ever hit the nation Hurricane Katrina killed an estimated 1,836 people, displaced more than a million, and caused more than $108 billion in damages.
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population1,836 fatalities and more than 1 million people displaced [1]
Start Date2005
Relevant government actorsFEMA, NOAA, HUD, Department of Homeland Security
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersDeep South Center for Environmental Justice, Tulane University, Louisianna Environmental Action Network
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginUNKNOWN
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
African American, low income communities
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Development of AlternativesImprove equitable transportation, reforms to emergency government services, climate adaptation plans targeting low income residents
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.While Hurrican Katrina brought new awareness to Environmental Justice issues at the national level climate adaptation efforts in low income and minority communities across the U.S. in both urban and rural areas still lags behind necessary levels. Hurricane Katrina is still referenced as a landmark Environmental Justice moment but national attention has largely turned away from adaptation issues in Louisiana. In 2012 Louisianna published a Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast planning for $50 billion investment but the plan includes very little mention of minority communities or environmental justice. The state of Louisianna and the City of New Orleans have yet to create a comprehensive climate adapatation plan.
Sources and Materials

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act 2006

Disaster Recovery and Personal Protection Act of 2006


[1]Reference: Johnson, Glenn , and Shirley Rainey. 'Hurricane Katrina: Public Health and Environmental Justice Issues Front and Centered.' Race, Gender and Class 14.1/2 (2007): 17-37. Print.

Bullard, Robert D.. Race, place, and environmental justice after Hurricane Katrina struggles to reclaim, rebuild, and revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2009.

Media Links

Trouble the Water
[click to view]

[click to view]

Five years after the hurricane a video describing environmental justice and wetlands restoration efforts in the lower 9th ward.
[click to view]

Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan
Meta Information
ContributorKaty Hintzen, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015