Between August 25th and August 31st, 2010, Hurricane Katrina made landfall three times and remained a tropical storm far inland from the north central Gulf of Mexico coast. The record breaking storm reached category five status in the Gulf before winds reduced to a strong three along the Mississippi/Louisiana border. Hurricane force winds extended at least 75 nautical miles to the east from the center. To date, it was the costliest and third deadliest hurricane to hit the U.S.
Hurricane Katrina’s arrival followed 2004, a year of devastating tropical weather impacts to the State of Florida including Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. 2005 was an equally unrelenting, record setting season. Tropical weather included five named tropical storms and hurricanes, including two record breaking hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through the 2004-2005 seasons, Gulf of Mexico communities around the U.S. and Mexico experienced at least 15 named storms.
With the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina comes a retrospective of what has been learned and steps taken to become more resilient. The fledgling Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) was being established. Teams had developed initial steps to address shared regional issues. The impact of the two storm seasons, culminating in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused Alliance leadership to re-think the region’s needs. A sixth priority issue, Coastal Community Resilience, was added to the organization.
The Resilience Team has since devoted much work to addressing the needs of residents and visitors of the Gulf coast. The key focus has been to produce tools to help reduce vulnerability to coastal risks and hazards. Partnering with the Sea Grant Coastal Storms Program, the Team created the Community Resilience Index, Storm Smart Coasts guide, and Homeowners Handbooks. These are designed for individuals and coastal communities to review their vulnerability and identify ways to reduce their risk. Anyone interested in dialog with experts around the region can join the online forum StormSmart Coasts.
The Resilience Team has been successful working with the public around the five U.S. Gulf states. The Alliance hopes when another storm strikes, and it will, participants in the programs will be better prepared. As the Alliance develops Action Plan III, the Resilience Team continues to build on the lessons learned throughout the last ten years and to address critical resilience needs. Learn more about the Coastal Resilience Team and their products by visiting the Alliance website.