Hurricane Katrina - August 29, 2005
For years prior to Hurricane Katrina there had been dire predictions of a catastrophic hurricane hitting New Orleans. In the decade leading up to the storm multiple studies warned of levee failures, potentially large loss of life, and a refugee crisis. A major storm hitting New Orleans was listed by FEMA as the most serious threat to the U.S. in early 2001.
The primary plan for providing for public safety in the event of a dangerous storm called for evacuating the city. However, the plans for evacuation did not sufficiently take into account those who did not have the means to evacuate voluntarily, such as those without vehicles, the poor, the elderly and the disabled. An estimated 10%-20% of the residents were not successfully evacuated.
The official death toll for New Orleans from the storm and from the subsequent failure of the levees is listed at 1,464. The overall death toll from the storm is listed at 1,833. However, both of those figures represent only the confirmed deaths from the storm, and an August 30, 2010 article in the Houston Chronicle cites at least one estimate that places the actual death toll as high as 3,500.
Hey if you ever go down to New Orleans
Oh let me wake up down on Basin Street
So if youíre headin down the Mississippi River
Iíve been down with the Chicago blues
The way disasters are treated in song have changed over time. Songs inspired by tragedies don't necessarily tell the stories of the actual disaster. In contemporary music, the details of the event are often omitted in favor of expressing an emotional response. For more on this, see the Q&A section.