Weird History The Monumental Disaster Of Post-Katrina NOLA And The Feds Who Profited From It  

Rachel Souerbry
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a huge opportunity opened up for the less moral members of society to take advantage of the newly weakened city. Everything from rampant looting to federal carelessness to police brutality had practically free reign to prey upon the already heavily damaged area. As a result, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina became a humanitarian crisis, one that the federal government failed to address properly. Aside from the new physical hazards, social injustices bubbling beneath the city for many years coupled with botched preparedness efforts ensured the city fell into a state of disarray.

Agencies that were supposed to provide relief failed, and politicians took advantage of a city brought to its knees; that is, if they even knew the extent of the damage in the first place. And those charged with maintaining peace, the police, either abused or abandoned their posts in egregious ways. These monumental mistakes and widespread corruption turned Hurricane Katrina from a natural disaster to a man-made catastrophe, one with repercussions that are still felt even over a decade later.

FEMA Hired Politicians Instead Of Trained Workers


FEMA Hired Politicians Instead... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Monumental Disaster Of Post-Katrina NOLA And The Feds Who Profited From It
Photo: White House Archives

One of FEMA's main problems during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina stemmed from the high level of confusion among its staff. In addition to their poor communication skills, many workers lacked the proper training for their particular roles, only further paralyzing the relief efforts.

According to the Cato Institute, many of the executives at FEMA were political appointees, not people with real disaster management experience. Naturally, this led to issues.

The Recovery Czar's Plandemonium Was An Incomprehensible Mess


The Recovery Czar's Plande... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Monumental Disaster Of Post-Katrina NOLA And The Feds Who Profited From It
Photo: Marty Bahamonde/FEMA/Wikimedia Commons

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin hired a man named Dr. Edward Blakely, known as the "Recovery Czar," to head the Office of Recovery Management. His complicated 17-part renewal plan proved to be extremely confusing for already overwhelmed citizens. Rather than implementing a grand plan for reconstruction, only small, incremental advances were carried out, and that didn't help the populations who needed relief immediately instead of down the line.

Due to the incoherent plan, many people referred to it as "Plandemonium." Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, Blakely failed to get very far, making promises he couldn't deliver on and calling New Orleans a "Third-World country."

Hundreds of Police Officers Abandoned Their Posts


Hundreds of Police Officers Ab... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Monumental Disaster Of Post-Katrina NOLA And The Feds Who Profited From It
Photo: Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr

Police Superintendent Eddie Compass came under fire just after the storm for his lack of leadership. People also lobbed accusations of corruption at the police force as a whole. His reports of looting, rapes, and violence lacked any factual information to back them up, and subsequently failed to draw his team together. Furthermore, there appeared to be little love or communication between Compass and Mayor Nagin, only exacerbating confusion as Compass made comments to the news that the Mayor's office swiftly called out as false.

In the days after the storm hit, roughly 15% of the NOPD, about 249 officers, abandoned their posts. Compass resigned a few weeks later. 

FEMA Wasted Supplies


FEMA Wasted Supplies is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Monumental Disaster Of Post-Katrina NOLA And The Feds Who Profited From It
Photo: Piccolo Namek/Wikimedia Commons

Just throwing money at a natural disaster without proper planning always proves to be a disaster in its own right. One of FEMA's biggest blunders after the storm came from their wasting of precious resources in the most outrageous ways, often tripping over themselves due to their own foolishness and self-imposed restrictions.

Though FEMA paid $900 million for 25,000 mobile homes, their own rules stated such vehicles could not be used on flood plains, so they went mostly unused. They also wasted roughly $100 million on ice that went unused, thrown out two years later.