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2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina is pummelling New Orleans with howling gusts and blinding rain, after sweeping ashore over the southern Louisiana coast.

The storm has knocked out power and submerged part of the low-lying city in up to 6ft (2m) of rising water.

Katrina has torn part of the roof of a stadium, where many sought refuge.

Mississippi and Alabama are also being pounded by the violent storm, which weakened as it swept inland, but brought winds of 105mph (170km/h).

The category-two storm flung boats onto Mississippi, flooded roads in Alabama and swamped bridges in Florida.

The National Hurricane Center warned the Louisiana city would be pounded throughout Monday - and the potential storm surge could still swamp the city, which sits some 6ft (2m) below sea level.

"It's capable of causing catastrophic damage," director Max Mayfield warned.

"New Orleans may never be the same."

Correspondents in the city say walls of water have been running down the skyscrapers like waterfalls.

Palm trees have been felled, shops wrecked and cars hurled across streets strewn with shattered glass.

A police officer told the BBC he had never seen anything like it. "This is unbelievable," Jonathon Carol said.

Mayor Ray Nagin has said he believed 80% of the city's 485,000 residents have heeded his order for a mandatory evacuation of the city.

In Context
Hurricane Katrina caused unprecendented damage in states on the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 80% of New Orleans was flooded after defensive barriers were overwhelmed.

Engineers fought to seal three big breaches in the city's system of canals and levees with tons of gravel dumped in place by truck and helicopter. Pumping-out began eight days after Katrina struck.

Conditions for the tens of thousands of people who had sought shelter in New Orleans' superdome quickly deteriorated. Water and food supplies ran short and sanitary facilities broke down.

As scenes of desperation continued two days after the hurricane, a public health emergency declared and people were finally airlifted or bussed out to safety.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown resigned after claims of a slow response to the situation.

The economic impact of Katrina became clear in places like Biloxi, Mississippi, where the boat-based casino industry was all but destroyed. Elsewhere, damage to refining facilities led to a hike in oil prices.

The death toll did not reach the levels feared by some, but many lives - and livelihoods - were devastated.

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