Katrina forming

Wednesday, August 24
  • Storm begins forming in the central Bahamas.
  • Wal-Mart Corporation in Arkansas begins readying supplies in anticipation of the storm.
Thursday, August 25
  • Storm becomes a Category 1 hurricane named Katrina.
  • Katrina hits Florida, kills 18 people, and causes 600 million dollars in property damage.
  • Hurricane loses strength passing over land, but begins re-energizing when it passes over warm Gulf of Mexico waters.
Friday, August 26
  • Katrina becomes Category 2 hurricane
  • Scientific community does not know where hurricane will strike until about 5:00 PM, when they estimate that Mississippi or Louisiana will likely be hit. Local, state, and federal governments are notified. Storm is expected to hit in three days.
  • Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi declare civil emergencies.
  • Red Cross and Salvation Army begin relief efforts.
  • At 11:00 PM National Hurricane Center predicts hurricane will hit Buras, Louisiana.
Saturday, August 27

People lining up to enter the Superdome

  • Katrina becomes a Category 3.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contacts Governor Blanco to begin coordinating relief efforts, because FEMA does not possess certain equipment such as vehicles and helicopters, and so relies upon the cooperation of state and local authorities.
  • Jefferson and other Parishes south of New Orleans advise their populations to evacuate.
  • Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans asks people to evacuate the city and designates the Superdome as a shelter of last resort. About 100,000 people do not evacuate.
  • Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana gives President Bush permission to call a federal state of emergency. The President complies.
  • Scientists expect Katrina will strengthen to a Category 4 or 5 by the time it hits land.
Sunday, August 28
  • Katrina upgraded to a Category 4 storm early in the morning and by the evening, the storm is category 5. It is now certain that Katrina will hit Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • Mayor Nagin announced a mandatory evacuation and imposed a curfew in accordance with President Bush’s advice. This was the first mandatory evacuation in the U.S. since the Civil War.
    • Despite warnings of imminent danger, many do not (or cannot) heed the advice to leave.
  • Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center, warns President Bush, Michael Brown (administrator of FEMA), and Michael Chertoff (director of the Department of Homeland Security) that the levees may be breached by Katrina.
  • FEMA and the National Guard bring in supplies to Superdome, including 2.5 million liters of water and 1.3 million MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
  • New Orleans’ government does not accept Amtrak’s offer to put hundreds on their last departing train.
Monday, August 29

Moving into the Superdome

  • Note – Much of the information below is taken from an interactive graphic created by the New Orleans Time Picayune. For a visual depiction of the minute by minute flooding on August 29th, visit:
  • 4:30 AM – Minor breaches of levees sends water into Orleans East and Orleans Metro bowls.
  • 5:00 AM – Storm surge begins to hit MR-GO levee, which protects the city from Lake Borgne. As sections of MR-GO fail, the lake swells into the wetlands and threaten St. Bernard Parish.
  • 6:10 AM – Katrina makes landfall. 21 foot high wall of water crosses Mississippi River and its levees, flooding most of Plaquemines Parish. Rapid loss of electricity throughout the city.
  • 6:30 AM – Levees in Intracoastal Waterway “funnel,” are overtopped, causing flooding in Eastern New Orleans. Witnesses report cracks in the 17th Street Canal levee in Lakeview.
  • 6:50 AM – Storm surge overtops the levees on both sides of the Industrial Canal.
  • 7:30 AM – Levee wall on west side of Industrial Canal is breached, flooding Upper 9th Ward, Bywater, and Treme.
  • 7:45 AM – Floodwall on east side of Industrial Canal gives way in two sections; Lower 9th Ward is flooded, as are Arabe and Chamlette.
  • 8:30 AM
    • Storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain overtops floodwall protecting Eastern New Orleans, causing further flooding there.
    • Waters from Lake Borgne continue to rise, overtopping Arpent Canal levee (7-9 feet high); neighborhoods of Poydras, Violet, Meraux, and Chamlette are flooded.
    • FEMA’s regional office is informed at this point that a “twenty-foot tidal surge. . . came up and breached the levee system in the canal.”

    Flooded homes

  • Although Mayor Nagin recognized that levees have been topped at early as 8:00 AM, official reports of levee breaks lag behind and begin pouring in at 9:00 AM and continue until the 17th Street Canal levee is reported to be topped at 10:30 PM
  • 9:08 AM – A brief from the Transportation Security Administration notes that the Industrial Canal levee has been breached. “There is heavy street flooding throughout Orleans, St. Bernard, and Jefferson parishes,” the brief notes.
    • A senior watch officer at the Homeland Security Operations Center receives the brief at 11:41 AM
  • 9:14 AM – A flash flood warning from the National Weather service notes: “A levee breach occurred along the Industrial Canal… 3-8 feet of water is expected.”
    • 9:36 AM – FEMA coordinator Matthew Green e-mails FEMA’s Michael Lowder, deputy director of response, says that the Industrial Canal Levee has failed.
  • 9:45 AM
    • Katrina makes landfall on North shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Storm surge is 15 feet and reaches more than five miles inland at some points. St. Tammany Parish neighborhoods are flooded.
    • 17th Street Canal levee wall fails, sending massive amounts of water into Lakeview. Flooding from this breech covers much of midtown NOLA and parts of Metarie.
  • The FEMA chain of command
    • 10 AM – Department of Homeland Security adviser Louis Dabdoub sends an e-mail to officials at Homeland Security and its main operation center. It reads: “It is getting bad. Major flooding in some parts of the city. People are calling in for rescue… The bad part has not hit here yet.”
    • 10:12 AM – Michael Heath, special assistant to then-FEMA chief Michael Brown, sends an e-mail to FEMA’s chief of staff and acting director that reports: “Severe flooding in the St. Bernard/Orleans parish line… People are trapped in attics.”
    • 11:00 AM – FEMA staff member in New Orleans informs an assistant of Michael Brown, FEMA Director, of the flooding of New Orleans.
    • 11:51 AM – Heath sends an e-mail to Michael Lowder, FEMA’s deputy directory of response, informing him that the 17th Street Canal has been breached, as reported by Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA official on the ground in New Orleans. Brown responds: “I’m being told here water over not a breach.”

    Wading through flooded streets

  • 12:00-5:00 PM – Levee breaches are reported by, among others, the Louisiana State Police, the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security.
  • 6:00 PM – A report from the Homeland Security Operation Center says: “Preliminary reports indicate the levees in New Orleans have not been breached.”
  • 6:08 PM – The American Red Cross e-mails officials at the White House and Department of Homeland Security about reports of levee breaches and “extensive flooding” in the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.
  • 9:00 PM – Appearing on CNN, then-FEMA Chief Michael Brown says: “We have some, I’m not going to call them breaches, but we have some areas where the lake and the rivers are continuing to spill over.”
  • FEMA Chain of Command
    • 9:29 PM – John Wood, chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, is sent an e-mail that reads in part: “the first (unconfirmed) reports they are getting from aerial surveys in New Orleans are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting.”
    • 10:30 PM – A Homeland Security situation report reads: “There is a quarter-mile [breach] in the levee near the 17th Street Canal… an estimated 2/3 to 75% of the city is under water… a few bodies were seen floating in the water.” This report reaches the White House around midnight, according to congressional investigators.
    • 11:05 PM: Michael Jackson, deputy secretary of Homeland Security, is sent an e-mail summarizing reports of the extensive flooding that followed the collapse of the 17th Street Canal levee. The reports had been submitted by Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA official on the scene, beginning at 10:12 AM that day.
  • Roads and communications devices damaged or destroyed by Katrina, making it difficult for information and supplies to travel. Faulty intelligence hurts government response. News’ reports indicate erroneously that New Orleans “dodged a bullet” and are unaware that the levees broke. Most first responders immobilized by Katrina.
Tuesday, August 30

Levees breached

  • 6:00 AM – A Homeland Security situation report states that the Industrial Canal and 17th Street Canal levees have been breached. It says: “Much of downtown and east New Orleans is underwater, depth unknown at this time… Widespread and significant flooding has occurred throughout the city.”
  • Eighty percent of New Orleans is under water; 200,000 homes destroyed; and about 15 percent of New Orleans’ police abandon the post.
  • US Coast Guard, FEMA, and National Guard lead rescue efforts.
  • The Superdome is surrounded by water, making it impossible to re-supply.
  • Army Corps of Engineers start trying to fix levees but their efforts are largely unsuccessful.
September 2005
  • September 1
    • Bush claims, “I don’t believe anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”
    • Evacuation from New Orleans now mandatory
    • City denies volunteers entry because saying they can’t protect them
    • FEMA Head, Michael Brown, confirms that the Convention Center has become a make-shift shelter
  • September 2
    • President Bush sends 10.5 billion request for emergency relief aid to Congress
    • Military convoy arrives in New Orleans
    • President Bush makes speech at Louis Armstrong International Airport – meets with Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin on Air Force One
    • Blanco decides not to allow president to federalize relief efforts
  • September 3 President Bush meets with Mayor Nagin
    • 7,000 Active duty troops sent to New Orleans; 10,000 National Guard to follow
  • September 4
    • Helicopters drop off survivors at New Orleans International
  • September 5
    • Nagin criticizes Blanco’s decision not to allow federalized relief effort
    • Focus on recovering dead and sending them to a morgue outside Baton Rouge
    • One week after storm, victims still being rescued from rooftops
  • September 6
    • Army Corps of Engineers begins pumping out city
  • September 7
    • House and Senate announce plans for a joint investigation into federal response.
    • 10,000 people continue to resist orders for complete evacuation. Governor Blanco criticizes Mayor Nagin for what she considers questionable and ineffective enforcement methods.
  • September 8 FEMA rescue boats
    • Half of New Orleans remains under water
    • Bush asks Congress for an additional $52 billion
  • September 9
    • Katrina estimated to be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history
  • September 10
    • Bush waives requirement that federal contracts go to companies paying prevailing wage
  • September 13
    • Bush takes responsibility for federal failures
    • Michael Brown resigns as Director of FEMA
    • Katrina recovery costing government $1 billion/day
  • September 14
    • Owners of nursing home that was not evacuated indicted
  • September 15
    • Businesses are being allowed to reopen
    • City leaders discuss ambitious redevelopment plan that includes demolition of Lower Ninth Ward
  • September 16
    • Cost of rebuilding Gulf Coast may top $200 billion. Bush says money will come from spending cuts
  • September 24
    • Hurricane Rita floods parts of New Orleans again
  • September 26
    • Laws changed to permit no-bid contracting. As a result:
      • .
      • .
  • September 28Flooded highways
    • New Orleans Police Chief, Edwin Compass, resigns
  • September 30
    • New Orleans permits some residents to return, and creates an advisory panel on rebuilding.
October 2005
  • October 3
    • More than 40,000 people still living in shelters awaiting temporary housing.
  • October 5
    • All residents allowed to return except those in the Ninth Ward.
  • October 7
    • Army Corps of Engineers completes temporary repairs to levees and has pumped most water out of city.
  • October 8
    • Senate approves $1 billion loan to the City of New Orleans.
  • October 12
    • Gun purchases by police and civilians and law enforcement swell, according to NPR report. National Rifle Association uses post-Katrina chaos as argument in favor of gun ownership.
  • October 16
    • 95% of evacuees have now been moved from shelters to other housing (including into the now infamous FEMA trailers).
  • October 21
    • Geologists warn that if wetlands were not rebuilt, New Orleans will flood again.
  • October 25
    • Class action lawsuit filed against Army Corps of Engineers for failure of levees.
  • October 27
    • Exxon Mobil reports 3rd quarter profits of $10 billion, due to Katrina-related supply disruptions that raised the price of oil.

Coast Guard flyover New Orleans to search for survivors

November 2005
  • November 13
    • Some public schools reopen.
  • November 28
    • FEMA extends housing payments for evacuees to January 7, 2006.
December 2005
  • December 2
    • Residents of Lower Ninth Ward allowed to return.
  • December 3
    • Governor Blanco postpones New Orleans Mayoral and City Council elections.
  • December 5
    • HUD announces plan to assist 20,000 homeowners with FHA insured loans, who plan to resume residence in homes damaged by Katrina. Under the $200 million plan, HUD will make advance mortgage payments for up to 12 months for qualifying homeowners.



January 2006
  • January 6
    • Lower Ninth Ward residents win restraining order to prevent razing of homes.
  • January 11
    • Commission now proposes rebuilding homes in all areas of the city.
  • January 13
    • Tulane University re-opens.
  • January 18
    • New plans for schools released: universal pre-K; school choice; local control.
  • January 24
    • Newly released documents reveal White House did receive more dire warnings than acknowledged.

Flooded house

February 2006
  • February 14
    • Governor Blanco threatens to block future offshore oil leases unless Louisiana gets bigger share of taxes.
    • House Republicans release harsh report on failure of response at all levels of government.
  • February 23
    • White House releases review that is less harsh.
  • February 27
    • Senate releases investigation of Red Cross mismanagement.
March 2006
  • March 10
    • Government panel releases report that exonerates Army Corps of Engineers for levee design.
  • March 24
    • Independent panel blames engineers who designed the levees.
April 2006
  • April 1
    • Thousands hold protest march to request elections be further postponed.
  • April 18
    • Mayoral primary election set for April 22nd with thousands still unable to return to vote. Results lead to run off between Ray Nagin and Mitch Landrieu.
May 2006
  • May 2
    • Nagin lays out new evacuation plan with focus on those with no transportation.
  • May 9
    • Some parts of Lower Ninth Ward declared safe
  • May 21
    • Nagin wins run-off election for mayor, defeating Mitch Landrieu
June 2006
  • June 1
    • Satellite imagery shows parts of New Orleans sinking faster than previously thought.
  • June 2
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accepts responsibility for the condition of the levees, and says the city remains at risk.
  • June 5
    • Criminal trials resume in New Orleans for first time since Katrina
  • June 14
    • Congressional investigation finds evidence of massive fraud in relief work – up to $1.4 billion
  • June 15Man surveys damaged home
    • Bush signs for additional spending of $19.4 billion for Katrina. Louisiana gets less than Mississippi
  • June 18
    • HUD proposes demolition of 4 of 10 New Orleans public housing complexes representing more than 4,300 units of housing; proposal requires city approval. HUD decides to demolish 4 of 10 public housing units
  • June 29
    • New Orleans Convention Center re-opens for business
July 2006
  • July 11
    • HUD approves $4.2 billion for Louisiana rebuilding. Road Home Program promises homeowners up to $150,000 to rebuild.
  • July 17
    • U.S. Construction workers file suit for being exploited in months after Katrina.
August 2006
  • August 2
    • Louisiana sues to prevent Interior Department from auctioning off oil production leases. State wants cut of income.
  • August 3
    • Grand jury investigation of NOLA Police Department launched
  • August 16
    • Federal Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. sides with insurance industry in test case exempting insurance company of responsibility because damage judged to be flood, not wind
September 2006
  • September 11
    • St. Bernard’s Parish announces it will demolish 4,000 homes that were never reclaimed.
  • September 21
    • Owners of nursing home in St. Bernard Parish indicted on 35 counts of negligent homicide
  • September 26
    • Football returns to Superdome. Saints defeat Atlanta Falcons 23-3.
October 2006
  • October 3
    • New Orleans school system embraces role as national laboratory for charter school experiments in order to fill void left by destruction of school system..
  • October 9
    • Hundreds of Gulf Coast residents sue insurance companies over claim denials
  • October 25
    • Oil refineries begin to benefit from post-Katrina fast track to permits
November 2006
  • November 6
    • Army Corps proposes wetlands protection be reduced.
  • November 23
    • FEMA trailer population has tripled since a year ago
  • November 28
    • NOLA Police Chief requests continued National Guard presence to maintain order
  • November 30
    • Federal judge orders FEMA to restore housing assistance.
December 2006
  • December 5
    • Army Corps of Engineers still has not completed floodgates. Work on highest level of flood protection will leave city vulnerable until 2010.
    • Fewer than half of New Orleans population has returned to the city at this point.
  • December 16
    • Army Corps of Engineers urges closing MR-GO shipping channel, long perceived as risk to New Orleans.
  • December 29
    • Seven NOLA police officers are indicted on charges of first-degree murder in connection with deaths of two men on a bridge six days after hurricane


January 2007
  • January 21
    • NOLA census at half pre-Katrina level of 444,000.
  • January 30
    • Senators criticize slow pace of NOLA recovery at a hearing in French Quarter
February 2007
  • February 2
    • Army Corps of Engineers releases report showing that more than 120 levees around the country could fail. States with the largest numbers of risky levees were California and Washington.
  • February 8
    • The House of Representatives Committee begins hearings to discuss the Small Business Administration (SBA), which is under criticism for its disaster relief program as well as its operating, lending and contracting practices.
  • February 22
    • First new houses built in Lower Ninth Ward
March 2007
  • March 2
    • President Bush acknowledges that many Gulf Coast residents remain frustrated with the slowness of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina but says “Times are changing for the better.”
  • March 3
    • The city of New Orleans files a $77 billion damage claim against the federal government and the Army Corp of Engineers.
  • March 31
    • Report in the New York Times about the delay in the rebuilding of public works damaged and destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Report highlights lag time in rebuilding schools, fire stations, public water systems, roads and libraries.
April 2007
  • April 7
    • HUD institutes changes to the Road Home Program, the housing aid program in Louisiana, to speed repairs.
July 2007
  • July 19
    • House oversight committee accuses FEMA of refusing to acknowledge that there were high levels of formaldehyde in trailers it provided to Hurricane Katrina evacuees in the Gulf Coast.
  • July 24
    • Article in the New York Times reports on the shattered medical system in New Orleans that is hampering the recovery of the city. Of the seven hospitals that operated prior to Hurricane Katrina, only three have reopened. Only one is operating at its pre-hurricane capacity.
    • A government audit finds that the Small Business Administration, which administers the federal government’s largest program to help disaster victims rebuild homes, improperly cancelled nearly 8,000 loans without notifying borrowers.
    • The Bush administration allows an extension of housing assistance to evacuees that are unable to return home. This does not affect the 40,000 families in housing paid for by FEMA. They will need to leave the housing by March 1, 2008.
  • July 31
    • Road Home program cuts off application process. Fewer than one in four of all applicants have received grants.
August 2007
  • August 5
    • U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that insurance companies are exempt from paying flood related claims even if flooding was caused by human negligence in levee construction. The decision in Xavier University of Louisiana v. Travelers Casualty Property Company of America overturned a ruling at the District level by Stanwood Duval Jr., who had ruled that such claims must be paid. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently declined to hear further appeal on this case.
  • August 8
    • 500 hurricane survivors file a federal lawsuit against the makers of the government-issued disaster trailers and mobile homes accusing them of using inferior materials in a profit-driven rush to build temporary homes.
  • August 10
    • American Red Cross “Means to Recovery” program comes under criticism for being too difficult for survivors of Hurricane Katrina to access. The program, which provides up to $20,000, was not advertised and many families had no opportunity to apply.
September 2007
  • September 8
    • Owners of a suburban New Orleans nursing home are found not guilty of negligence in the drowning of 35 of the home’s residents in the only trial to result from deaths in Hurricane Katrina.
October 2007
  • October 16
    • FEMA offers $4,000 in relocation expenses for evacuees who return home or find permanent housing elsewhere by the end of February 2008. This is done to reduce costs of ongoing housing aid; those who do not find housing will have their assistance cut by $50 per month with the goal of “leading families closer to housing independence.” The plan is criticized as seen as dispersing poor evacuees across the country and away from New Orleans.
  • October 20
    • Bobby Jindal (R) elected as Governor to succeed Kathleen Blanco. Jindal is the first Indian-American Governor in U.S. history, and will be the youngest currently serving governor in the nation. He wins decisively, obtaining 52% of the vote in a four person race.
December 2007
  • December 4
    • Study on NOLA mental health reports that the impact of mental illnesses such as PTSD has been made worse by the delayed government response to Katrina. Report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry .
  • December 7
    • Study by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Children’s Health Fund reports that children who have returned to the Gulf Coast have serious medical, mental health and academic problems due in large part to unstable living conditions.
  • December 14
    • NOLA protesters demonstrate against demolition of four public housing complexes. The protesters claim that the federal government’s aim is to keep the poor from returning to New Orleans
  • December 15
    • Demolition of the four public housing complexes slated for destruction halted due to complaints about scarcity of affordable housing for the poor.
  • December 20
    • New Orleans City Council votes unanimously to demolish 4500 public housing units at four sites without committing to a one for one replacement plan. Instead, the city will build 3,343 new public housing units, 900 market rate rental units, and 900 homes for sale. Some protesters were thrown out of the Council Chambers during the discussion and vote.
  • December 26
    • St. Bernard Parish president, Junior Rodriguez, loses his bid to be re-elected. The rejection of Rodriguez who had been a political powerbroker for 30 years reflects the frustration of voters about the slow pace of recovery in their community, according to the New York Times.



January 2008
  • January 10
    • Governor Bobby Jindal extends the National Guard presence in New Orleans until June 2008. The Guard has been in the city since the aftermath of the Hurricane.
  • January 18
    • Former patients of the closed public Charity Hospital file a lawsuit saying that medical care for the poor is inadequate and ask for a return to a level of services that the hospital provided before Hurricane Katrina. The state has reopened the smaller University Hospital which has limited capacity and which does not offer as many free and reduced-price services.
    • In response to concerns about high levels of formaldehyde in its disaster trailers, FEMA offer refunds to people who bought them. This includes over 500 evacuees.
  • January 27
    • Federal District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. dismisses class action lawsuit against U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ruling that the 17th Street, London, and Orleans Avenue canals were Federal flood control projects and, as such, were statutorily immune from the Flood Control Act of 1928.
  • January 31
    • New Orleans Police Department officer is shot and killed by a mentally ill man who had previously been institutionalized and released. The incident focuses attention on a mental health system that has been in chaos since Hurricane Katrina, with a shortage of acute-care psychiatric beds and the parish jails substituting for closed psychiatric wards.
February 2008
  • February 1
    • Federal judge absolves the Army Corps of Engineers of liability in the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
  • February 2
    • Endymion Parade, the largest of the Mardi Gras parades, resumes its traditional route through Mid-City for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The return marks a milestone in the rebuilding of the community.
  • February 15
    • FEMA pledges to intensify efforts to move Gulf Coast hurricane victims out of trailers and into apartments and hotels after the Center for Disease Control confirmed that the trailers were contaminated with high levels of formaldehyde.
March 2008
  • March 1
    • Bush Administration Gulf Coast Reconstruction czar, Donald E. Powell, resigns after two and one half years. Powell had created the Road Home Program. NYT
  • March 11
    • Five hundred foreign welders and pipefitters from India and the United Arab Emirates sue their employer, Signal International, over living conditions, company threats, and false promises of permanent resident status. The workers had been brought in to work on Gulf Coast oil-rigs after Hurricane Katrina.
April 2008
  • April 9
    • Louisiana Supreme Court rules that insurance companies are not obligated to pay for water damage from flooding after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina.
May 2008
  • May 28
    • Number of homeless in NOLA has doubled since the storm struck in 2005, according to NYT report. Reasons cited are the lack of affordable rental units and increase of people returning to New Orleans without the means to pay the increased rents.
June 2008
  • June 3
    • FEMA reports that it may use trailers to house disaster victims in the upcoming hurricane season despite promises to never use them again because of the high levels of formaldehyde.
  • June 7
    • Renaissance Village, a FEMA trailer park, is closed. A few residents remained who were unable to leave without extensive help. Private aid agencies continue to assist those who are unable to move out on their own.
  • June 20
    • Governor Bobby Jindal announces that at least 200 Louisiana National Guard troops will remain in New Orleans through 2008 for law enforcement duties as the New Orleans Police Department rebuilds.
August 2008
  • August 11
    • Federal investigators raided offices of the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership Corporation, a city-chartered non-profit agency accused of abusing a federally financed program intended to clean up houses after Katrina. Housing activist broke the scandal.
  • August 22
    • Opening of the critically acclaimed documentary, Trouble the Water, by Kimberly Roberts, who filmed her family’s experiences in New Orleans during and after Katrina. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/451959/Trouble-the-Water/trailers
  • August 30
    • New York Times reports on the Road Home saying that though $3.3 million has been spent, the program has had no effect on most of the houses in New Orleans and has played a limited role in bringing back neighborhoods most flooded by the storm.
  • August 31
    • With Hurricane Gustav approaching, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin orders the city’s first mandatory evacuation order since Katrina.
    • The New York Times runs an article on Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune who with colleagues wrote a series of reports in 2002 on the vulnerability of New Orleans if it were hit by a major hurricane.
September 2008
  • September 1
    • Hurricane Gustav approaches a deserted New Orleans. The hurricane weakens as it makes landfall sparing the city. The levees, though not completed, hold back the floodwaters.
October 2008
  • October 1
    • Federal officials announce that they will investigate New Orleans police officers involved in fatal shootings on a city bridge in the aftermath of Katrina. The announcement comes after the dismissal of state charges against seven officers accused of fatally shooting two men.
  • October 4
    • Federal judge in New Orleans says that the government is not immune from lawsuits claiming that many Gulf Coast hurricane victims were exposed to potentially dangerous formaldehyde fumes while living in trailers. Evidence exists that FEMA delayed its response to complaints about formaldehyde toxins due to liability concerns.
November 2008
  • November 25
    • Local and federal officials announce plans for a 70-acre medical campus to replace two hospitals destroyed by Katrina. Plans draw criticism from preservationists and neighborhood activists because it will lead to the destruction of historical houses and buildings.
December 2008
  • December 3
    • Louisiana state committee approves 8 new charter schools in New Orleans, increasing to 50 the number of charter schools operating in the city. Prior to the addition of the new schools, 55% of all public school students in the city already attended charters, the highest proportion of any city in the nation. Four of the schools represented a unique strategy, characterized by a gradual take over of public schools starting with grades K-2 or K-3.
  • December 4
    • Army Corps of Engineers breaks ground on a giant two mile-long floodwall to protect New Orleans and in particular the vulnerable areas of the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East.
  • December 7
    • U.S. Representative William J. Jefferson is defeated by little known Republican lawyer, Anh Cao. The election in part underscores the sharp demographic shift that has taken place in New Orleans.



January 2009
  • January 11
    • New HUD secretary, Shaun Donovan, overturns a previous decision to end rental assistance to about 31,000 evacuee households at the end of this month.
  • January 12
    • President Bush concedes that some mistakes were made in Katrina response, but asserts that the Federal response was not slow.
  • January 15
    • The New York Times reports on Hispanic day laborers and how they are victims of payday theft. The article also highlights the racial friction between the newcomers and the long-time African American residents.
  • January 27
    • 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds District court decision permitting the razing and redevelopment of four New Orleans public housing complexes. Three of the four complexes had already been demolished.
March 2009
  • March 1
    • The Louisiana National Guard leaves New Orleans ending its presence of nearly three years.
  • March 20
    • A federal judge in New Orleans rules that a civil lawsuit brought against the Army Corps of Engineers can go forward. Suit filed by homeowners claiming that damage to their homes by Katrina was exacerbated due to negligence and poor planning by the Corps.
April 2009
  • New Orleans sales tax revenues decline for the first time since 2006; decline attributed to weak consumer spending.
May 2009
  • May 1
    • New Orleans public transit ridership reaches 43% of pre-Katrina levels, a 10% increase since May of 2008. Regional Transit Authority recently began a special “Lil Easy” service with partial coverage of the Lower Ninth Ward.
    • Hurricane survivors still living in FEMA trailers are told by federal officials that they need to vacate by the end of the month.
  • May 7
    • The New Orleans Recovery Chief, Edward J. Blakely, announces that he will be leaving the position after two and one half years. A prominent expert on post-disaster recovery, Blakely was unable to meet expectations to increase the rate of rebuilding.
  • May 31
    • Deadline for those living in FEMA trailers to vacate.
June 2009
  • June 3
    • Katrina evacuees who were told that they needed to vacate their FEMA trailers by the end of May are allowed to purchase them for $5 or less. HUD makes the decision. In addition, the 3,450 families still in trailers or temporary housing are given priority for $50 million in housing vouchers recently made available.
  • June 22
    • State legislature votes to spend $85 million for renovations and luxury box expansions in the Superdome, voting down an amendment that would have re-directed these funds towards offsetting state cuts in higher education and health care.
  • June 26
    • DHS publishes report acknowledging that FEMA failed to adequately address concerns of Formaldehyde contamination in trailers issued to Katrina survivors. Report acknowledges that FEMA knew for as long as two years about the problem, but did not act to address it until unfavorable media reports began to surface.
    • As of this date, Orleans and Plaquemines Parish still had received less than 50% of the FEMA Public Assistance funds for which they had approved. St. Tammany Parish had received the highest percentage of monies due, at 75%.
July 2009
  • July 29
    • New York Times reports that influx of small entrepreneurs to New Orleans are drawn by business tax incentives, low rents and a desire to rebuild the city to redress past problems.
August 2009
  • Statistical Update: New Orleans leads the nation in percentage of properties that are vacant, unoccupied, or blighted.
    • St. Bernard Parish: 53% of all properties (14,372)
    • Orleans Parish: 31% of all properties (65,888)
    • By comparison, Detroit had a 19% rate (65,253)
  • August 6
    • Louisiana Recovery Authority changes rules of Road Home Program, allowing absentee, out of state landlords to receive money to finance rental properties in New Orleans.
  • August 15
    • Release of the graphic novel, “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge”, by Josh Neufeld. It tells the story of seven survivors and is based on research and interviews done by Neufeld.
  • August 17
    • Road Home program reports having distributed nearly $8 billion in grants to 124,500 applicants.
  • August 18
    • Census director pledges that census questionnaires will be hand delivered to all homes in the New Orleans area that appear inhabitable, rather than being mailed. However, the Director refused Mayor Nagin’s request to count as New Orleans residents individuals who are currently rebuilding but have yet to return to NOLA.
    • Nonprofit organization Neighborhood Housing Services tapped by City of NOLA to administer a $20 million home repair program focused on storm related damage.
  • August 20
    • New Orleans City Council rejects a developer’s plans to build 36 single- family affordable homes next to an expensive subdivision. Subdivision residents complained that their property values would be negatively affected by the smaller homes that would have been leased on a 15-year basis to families earning just 60% of the Median Family Income.
  • August 21
    • Congressional hearings led by Rep. Maxine Waters investigate delays in rebuilding more than 3000 affordable housing units that were demolished after Katrina.
  • August 28
    • Governor Jindal reaches agreement with Presidents of LSU and Tulane for a hospital project that will replace Charity Hospital, although the new facility may not be completed until 2013.
  • August 29
    • The fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. President Barack Obama in his weekly radio address pledges to work to advance the recovery effort along the Gulf Coast and announces that he will visit New Orleans before the years end.
  • August 31
    • Binding arbitration process goes into effect to resolve disputes between local and federal authorities regarding funding for large public works projects. The new process was designed and announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Senator Mary Landrieu, and passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
September 2009
  • Brookings Institute ranks New Orleans among the top 20 cities in the nation based on its economic strength and low unemployment rate in the wake of a national recession.
  • September 20
    • An editorial in New York Times on disaster aid to Mississippi reports that up to $600 million has been spent on projects not related to the rebuilding effort after Katrina.
  • September 24
    • Jury rules that manufacturer of FEMA-issued mobile homes is not liable for toxic formaldehyde fumes allegedly inhaled by residents.
  • September 29
    • President Barack Obama signs executive order extending the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding through April 1, 2010. Obama also announced a planned visit to New Orleans to evaluate progress.
    • Federal District Judge partially certifies a class action lawsuit against Gretna Police Department and Jefferson Parrish Sherriff’s Office for preventing evacuees from crossing the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.
October 2009
  • October 2
    “Who Lives in New Orleans and the Metro Area Now” report released, showing that:

    • White, Latino, and Asian populations have increased as a percentage of the whole. The African American population decreased by 3.6% in the Metro Area, and by as much as 6% in Orleans Parish.
    • 2008 Homeownership rate of 53% in Orleans Parish, up from 46% pre-katrina. Increase is attributed to high cost of rents, which have prevented renters many from returning.
    • 20% of households had no access to a vehicle, down from 27% pre-Katrina. Evidence unclear as to whether this is simply a result of poorer families not having been able to/interested in returning.
    • 23% of the population lived at or below the poverty level, down from 28% before Katrina. Again, this may (or may not) be a result of lower income individuals not returning after the storm.
    • The foreign born population increased from 4.2% pre-Katrina to 7.4% in 2007, but then fell again to 5.3% in 2008.
  • October 3
    • St. Bernard Parish is ordered by a federal judge to allow housing for low-income families. The battle over low-income housing has brought to the surface the issues of class and race and anger at the federal government.
  • October 8
    • The FBI questions New Orleans Police officers in response to accusations that the department acted lawlessly in suppressing violence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Other city agencies are also under investigation.
  • October 15
    • HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan approves change in Road Home program that extends eligibility for funds to owners of homes with low- or moderate value. $600 million in remaining funds may be released to help families complete rebuilding projects that had previously been underfunded. Eligible families could receive up to an additional $34,000 each. An independent study, however, found that even with the new money, families receiving Road Home grants will still fall between $1.6 and $2.3 billion short of the total cost of rebuilding.
    • President Barack Obama makes his first visit to New Orleans as president. He is challenged about the slow pace of the rebuilding effort. He pledges that progress will be made and that he will not forget New Orleans.
  • October 21
    • MR-GO Canal closed permanently to traffic as work neared completion on a new surge barrier designed to better protect the city. The foundation for the barrier is now complete, and the project (which will use eight Eiffel tower’s worth of steel) is scheduled to be finished in time for the start of the 2011 Hurricane season.
  • October 28
    • The New York Times reports that filmmaker Jonathan Demme will adapt David Eggers book, “Zeitoun” into an animated feature. The book tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun who remained in New Orleans during and after Katrina to protect his home and business and who helped other flood victims.
November 2009
  • November 6
    • Industrial plants in St. John’s Parrish report a 20% increase in pollution over the previous year.
  • November 12
    • Study finds that 41% of New Orleans renters spend more than half of their pre-tax income on rent and utilities. Study estimated that by 2010, New Orleans would have a surplus of more than 6500 vacant market rent housing units, as well as a need for more than 13,000 affordable housing units or housing vouchers.
  • November 13
    • Former New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption and bribery.
  • November 16
    • Army Corps of Engineers announces it has discovered that the material used by a contractor to construct the Kenner Levee in 2000-2001 did not meet the quality standards of the Corps, and that the problem is being fixed by the current contractor.
  • November 18
    • District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. finds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers liable for damages claimed by five residents, ruling that the Corps failed to maintain and operate the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), which connects the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico The Judge, however, limited the scope of the decision. The Court ruled that in this case the Corps was not immune from the Flood Control Act of 1928.
  • November 25
    • Four New Orleans charter schools placed on probation after failing to meet student performance or financial standards. Each of the schools was allowed to continue operation.
December 2009
  • December 6
    • New Orleans Crime Coalition releases survey results showing that most New Orleans residents do not feel safe outside their own neighborhoods, and that only 33% of residents are satisfied with the work of the New Orleans Police Department.
  • December 8
    • Algiers Charter School Association announces $900,000 in bonuses awarded to teachers and personnel related to achieving student performance improvement goals.
    • State contractors announce the completion of 119 housing units, known as “Katrina Cottages,” built as part of the Road Home program. Another 230 were still under construction, out of a total project goal of 500 homes. None of the homes were yet occupied as of this date.
  • December 11
    • A New York Times editorial castigates the real estate and some politicians in Louisiana for diverting federal funds for affordable housing to infrastructure building projects and the clearing of abandoned buildings. The Times accuses them of “promoting fiction that New Orleans has all the housing that it needs.” The Times cites a new analysis by the Greater New Orleans Data Center which found that nine out of ten households have been priced out of the private market in Orleans Parish by rising rents. The editorial also cites the doubling of the homeless population which includes former owners and squatters living in abandoned homes and buildings.
  • December 15
    • Catholic Diocese announces plans for using $135 million in Federal storm recovery money. Money will be spent to rebuild several parishes and to build a new Catholic girls high school.
  • December 17
    • State announces modifications in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which are designed to help get money flowing to homeowners needing to rebuild. Previously, homeowners would have to complete rebuilding work and provide documentation prior to receiving assistance money. Under the reform, money would be provided in advance in order to finance the projects.



January 2010
  • January 10
    • The documentary, “Mine” is released. It tells the story of pets left behind during the storm, the rescue efforts of animal welfare organizations, and the challenges of owners trying to reconnect with their pets that were dispersed throughout the country. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/457377/Mine/trailers
  • January 24
    • New Orleans Saints defeat the Minnesota Vikings, earning the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLII.
  • January 27
    • Louisiana receives $478 Million in federal funds to replace the state owned Charity Hospital which has been closed since Katrina hit. There has been controversy surrounding the possible destruction of the hospital as it has pitted economic development advocates against neighborhood preservationists who wish to keep Charity’s 70 year-old art deco tower. The decision has dragged on since FEMA offered to repair and not replace Charity and since FEMA had questioned whether some of the damage was storm-related.
  • January 29
    • Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls Hurricane Katrina the best thing that ever happened to the New Orleans school system. Various New Orleans and Louisiana officials agree.
    • Recreational Vehicle Industry Association lobbies Congress to send infamous Formaldehyde laced RV trailers to Haiti to aid in relief efforts in wake of earthquake.
February 2010
  • February 1
    • Federal Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon dismisses case over Katrina bridge blockade, ruling that police did not violate the rights of pedestrians whom they prevented from leaving the city via the bridge.
  • February 6
    • Mitch Landrieu elected mayor of New Orleans in a landslide, becoming first white Mayor of New Orleans since his father, Moon Landrieu, left office in 1978.
  • February 7
    • New Orleans Saints defeat Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl XLIV.


Additional Timelines: The Brookings Institution | Think Progress

Story of the Levees



Teaching the Levees is a collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University, The Rockefeller Foundation, HBO Documentary Films, Teachers College Press, and the EdLab