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Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the U.S. Gulf Coast
Path of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Category 5 hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the U.S. Gulf Coast within the span of less than a month over August and September 2005. Katrina's storm surge caused 53 levee breaches in greater New Orleans and decimated the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. Rita caused extensive damage along the coasts of Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Together they resulted in nearly $100 million in damage and nearly 2,000 fatalities.
Perhaps the greatest impact of the storms was the exposure of entrenched inequalities based on race and class — and massive institutional failure — that turned the natural disaster into a man-made catastrophe.
A disaster exposes our race and class fault lines
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in August and September 2005, forcing over 1.5 million people from their homes and destroying close to 300,000 houses. But the storm was just one part of the disaster. Entrenched inequalities based on race and class — and massive institutional failure — turned a natural disaster into a man-made catastrophe.
Today, communities across the Gulf
Coast are still struggling to
restore their homes and their lives. People of color and low-income communities
have found it particularly hard to return and rebuild because of a lack of
resources, scarce and expensive housing, and under-funded health services and public
schools. Government aid programs remain a maze of confusion.
» Read more about the background and ongoing impacts
Rebuilding the Gulf Coast with equity
Our response to the crisis on the Gulf Coast follows a vision of rebuilding towards justice. We feel that low-income communities and communities of color unjustly suffered during the disaster and in its aftermath because of our society's underlying inequalities. Our ultimate goal has been to support communities marginalized on the basis of race and class in their struggle for a just and equitable rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.
We have partnered with more
than 40 community groups and organizations led by, and representing, historically
disenfranchised communities in rural and urban areas of Mississippi and Louisiana. We have distributed over $2.2 million to support
grassroots organizations in their struggle to return and rebuild. Efforts have included
supporting people who blocked bulldozers that were about to destroy homes in
the Ninth Ward of New Orleans; stocking "tool libraries" for rural
communities to share tools to work on their homes; providing support for
daycare in return areas; and replacing fishing boats for a Native American
» Read more about UUSC's approach and the ongoing work
Featured Stories About Our Response to the Gulf Coast Hurricanes
Reflections on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from Our Rights in Humanitarian Crises Program Partners
As UUSC celebrates the important milestone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights' 60th anniversary, the Rights in Humanitarian Crises program
A narrated slideshow about our JustWorks Camps in the Gulf Coast.