The storm ravaged houses and killed thousands, but much of its damage was invisible to the eye
In 2003, I relocated to New Orleans from California, and two years later, I was living in a neighborhood called the Bywater on a street named for a saint who was flayed alive, six blocks west of the Industrial Canal that would flood the city's Lower 9th Ward. Two blocks from the Mississippi River, I rented half a shotgun -- an architectural style popular in New Orleans that gets its nickname from the fact that a person standing at the front door can fire a shotgun directly out the backdoor.
On August 26, 2005, Hurricane Katrina barreled into the Gulf of Mexico. By August 28, it had grown from a Category 3 hurricane to a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale with maximum sustained winds within its eyewall clocking in at 175 m.p.h. On the morning of August 29, the cyclone -- now a Category 3 with sustained winds of 125 m.p.h. -- made landfall near Buras, Louisiana, a small community located at the bottom of the toe of Louisiana's boot-like shape.
From there, the storm swept across St. Bernard Parish, St. Tammany Parish, and east of New Orleans. Continuing north, it slipped over the Louisiana-Mississippi border, and on August 30, it weakened to a tropical depression over the Tennessee Valley. The resultant storm surge produced massive destruction across multiple states, and New Orleans' levees were breached catastrophically, flooding an estimated 80-percent of the Crescent City. The hurricane left 1,836 dead and hundreds missing.