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Case Title:

Hurricane Katrina: In the Eye of the Storm

Publication Year : 2005

Authors: Sagar Chakraverty & Nasreeen Taher

Industry: Not Applicable


Case Code: CSR0025B

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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Hurricane Katrina with wind speed of 175 mph (280 km/h) was the first Category 5 hurricane as per Safir-Simpson hurricane scale of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It first made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just north of Miami, Florida on August 25, 2005. Then again on August 29 along the Central Gulf Coast near New Orleans,Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm. Major damages to the coastal regions of the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama made Katrina the most destructive and costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

The officialdeath toll was more than 1,242 and the damage higher than $200 billion. It surpassed Hurricane Andrew as the most expensive natural disaster in US history. Over a million people were displaced — a humanitarian crisis on a scale unseen in the US since the Great Depression.

New Orleans, Southern Louisiana, lay in a wide, shallow bowl 2-10 feet below sea level. Nearly 80 percent of the city was below sea level.It was bounded by River Missisipi on the south, Lake Pontchartrain on the north and Gulf of Mexico on the east. Levees of the river Mississippi and lake Pontchartrain covered 350 miles around the city to hold back the water from entering the city . The storm hit with the fury of a nuclear warhead, and pushed a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. This lake was 6 feet (~ 2m) above sea level. The water level rose by 4-5 meters with waves reaching 2 meters above the surge and crept to the top of the massive wall that held back the lake before spilling over. Water from Lake Pontchartrain breached the levees of the 17th Street Canal, the London Avenue Canal and the Industrial Canal before flowing into the city. As the levees failed in five places, the city filled like a bathtub flooding 80 percent of the city.

By the time US President George W Bush touched down at the tormented region, more than just the topography had changed. It was hoped that America had got smarter, more nimble and visionary in the ability to respond to catastrophe, four years after the greatest man-made disaster (9/11) in US history. The hope had shattered. How was it really possible that even after so many commissions and commitments, bureaucracies split up and restructured, emergency supplies stockpiled and pre-positioned, when a disaster struck, the whole newfangled system just seized up and couldn’t move?

Should Katrina be remembered as the worst natural disaster or worst response in US history? Or both?—September 12, TIME

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To understand the effects of Hurricane Katrina on US
  • To discuss about the disaster management in US.

Keywords : Corporate Social Responsibility Case Study Hurricane Katrina, Disaster Management, Crisis Management, FEMA, Corporate Social Responsibility, US Government natural disaster response, New Orleans, Rescue measures, Aftermath Ethics and Social Responsibility, Catastrophe, Levee breach, Louisiana, Corporate response

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