Hurricane Katrina & Other Natural Disasters

August 29 marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the deadly storm that overwhelmed the levees of New Orleans, killing over 1,800 people and leaving $108 billion in property damage in its wake.

Since that day, the city of New Orleans is synonymous with Hurricane Katrina. It is, of course, known for its incredible food like beignets at Café du Monde, for its jazz music at Preservation Hall and for steamboat rides on the Mississippi, but it is still struggling to escape the specter of Katrina.

Other cities have experienced this same association with deadly natural disasters, including our own beautiful city of Chicago. Chicago has fabulous deep-dish pizza, incredible skyscrapers and Buckingham Fountain, but it also has that little incident with Mrs. O'Leary's cow (who has finally been exonerated) which, although it took place over a century ago, still has a real presence here—our Major League Soccer team even bears the name, Chicago Fire. And the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 has been memorialized on screen and in print since its occurrence.

If anything good can be taken from Mother Nature wreaking havoc on large, urban cities, it is the improvements in infrastructure and planning that can occur as a result. In New Orleans, there are now levee inspections on a daily instead of annual basis, and evacuation and communication plans have been improved, replacing older, ineffectual models. So, although New Orleans suffered terrible losses, much has been learned from Katrina and is still being learned as they emerge from its devastation. Below are books about not only Hurricane Katrina, but other devastating natural disasters.

Hurricane Katrina is the epic story of one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history. Award-winning photos show the scope of the devastation.

San Francisco Is Burning by Dennis Smith recounts the tragedy of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and tells the stories of the people who survived.

The Great Chicago Fire is a narrative history of the devastating fire that destroyed much of Chicago in October 1871.

Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson is the story of the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, which took thousands of lives. A scientist named Isaac Cline assured the residents of Galveston, Texas that a hurricane could not destroy their fair city, but he was sadly proven wrong when the overconfident residents believed him and did not take appropriate precautions, resulting in the deaths of over 8,000 people.

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