Hurricane Katrina was a large Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane that caused more than 1,200 deaths and $125 billion in damage in August 2005, particularly hard hit was the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It was at the time, the costliest tropical cyclone on record, and is now tied with 2017's Hurricane Harvey. The storm was the third major hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, and the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the lower 48 states. Katrina began to develop on August 23, 2005 as a tropical depression. Early the following day, the depression intensified into a tropical storm as it headed generally westward toward Florida, strengthening into a hurricane two hours before making landfall at Hallandale Beach on August 25. After briefly weakening to tropical storm strength over southern Florida, Katrina emerged into the Gulf of Mexico on August 26 and began to rapidly intensify. The storm strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall over southeast Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29. There is controversy to this day as to the strength of the storm when it came ashore. The National Hurricane Center determined that the system weakened as it crossed the coastline to a Catagory 3, yet evidence and surveys after the storm and the complete and utter destruction lead some to suggest that it was still a Cat 5. Flooding, caused largely as a result of fatal engineering flaws in the flood protection system known as levees around the city of New Orleans, caused the greatest loss of life. Eventually, 80% of the city, as well as large tracts of neighboring parishes were under water for weeks. The flooding also destroyed most of New Orleans' transportation and communication facilities, leaving tens of thousands of people who had not evacuated the city prior to landfall stranded with little access to food, shelter or basic necessities. Many of those left behind were people of color and others in working class neighborhoods. The scale of the disaster in New Orleans provoked massive national and international response efforts; federal, local and private rescue operations evacuated displaced persons out of the city over the following weeks, but to many the response was too slow. Multiple investigations in the aftermath of the storm concluded that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, that had designed and built the region's levees decades earlier, was responsible for the failure of the flood-control systems. The emergency response from federal, state and local governments was widely criticized, resulting in the resignations of FEMA director Michael Brown. Many government officials were criticized for their responses, especially the New Orleans Mayor and the Louisiana Governor, and President George W. Bush. The congressional elections the following year brought about a 31-seat swing from the GOP to the Democrats and control of the U. S. House of Representatives to the Dems. As a result of the Democratic victory, Nancy Pelosi, became the first woman and the first Californian elected House Speaker the change of control in the House was attributed by many, in part, to the inadequate response to Katrina the year before.
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