This Is What Hurricane Katrina Looked Like — In 13 Striking Pics

Photographer Kathy Anderson was working in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. After following the mayor's evacuation order, she turned around and headed back in to photograph for the The Times-Picayune, where she worked. “It was not until I flew over the city in a Blackhawk helicopter that I realized the magnitude of the situation. It was not a contained area — it was miles and miles of water and sheer devastation,” she told us last week. “While looking through the lens, I was watching an entire city drown.”

On Tuesday, August 23, 2005, a tropical storm formed over the Bahamas. Two days later, it made landfall in Florida. By Sunday Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi declared states of emergency. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin signed a mandatory evacuation order for all 480,000 residents — the first in the city’s history. Then, the levees broke. On Monday, 80% of the city was flooded, with some areas covered by as much as 20 feet of water.

"Katrina was the eighth hurricane I had covered for the Tampa Bay Times,” says photographer Willie J. Allen Jr., who drove out to cover the storm. “It stands out because of the extent of the devastation to people in the region. None of the other storms was like Katrina.”

Despite the evacuation order, as many as 100,000 people remained in the city. Some had fled to the Superdome or other shelters, while others remained trapped on the roofs of their houses, awaiting rescue. Reports of violence and looting begin to emerge — along with criticism about the adequacy and speed of the response. 1,833 people would die in the hurricane's wake.

Now, a decade has passed, but Katrina remains one of the deadliest and costliest natural disasters in our history. We asked four photographers who shot the aftermath of the devastation to look back on the end of the summer 2005 and share some of their most affecting images from the disaster.

Photographed By Willie J. Allen Jr.
Brian Gayton cries for his grandmother, who died in the Hurricane, soon after being rescued from his house in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.
Photographed By Willie J. Allen Jr.
Thousands of evacuees wait outside the Superdome for their turn to board buses headed to Houston, TX, on Thursday, September 1. Many had been housed there since Sunday.
Photographed By Willie J. Allen Jr.
A broken mannequin on Canal Street in the heart of the French Quarter two days after the hurricane, on August 31, 2005 — two days after the city lost electricity.
Photographed By Willie J. Allen Jr.
An aerial view of the New Orleans Marina in the aftermath of the storm.
Photographed By Willie J. Allen Jr.
Residents of New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward paddle to rescuers on August 29, 2005, the day the levees broke.
Photo: Melissa Phillip/ AP Photo/Houston Chronicle.
Sarah Johnson, an in-home caretaker, yells for help outside the Convention Center, with a patient on Thursday, September 1, 2005.
Photographed By © Scott Goldsmith
A young man injured during Katrina is carried to saftey after being rescued in a boat from his home in New Orleans.
Photographed By © Scott Goldsmith
A man was covered after he died of a heart attack waiting outside the Convention Center in New Orleans on September 3, 2005. Masses of people were told to stay at the Convention Center for food and water, which took over 36 hours to arrive in some cases.
Photographed By © Scott Goldsmith
Residents fled the city in droves, heading to other cities in Louisiana and the rest of the region. Many never returned — to this day, New Orleans has about 100,000 fewer residents than it did in 2005.
Photographed By Kathy Anderson.
Over $160 billion in federal payouts and insurance money has been spent in recovery efforts in New Orleans and the Gulf region since the storm — and most would say the rebuilding is far from over.
Photographed By © Scott Goldsmith
A Wal-Mart grocery store, two days after hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Stores had to throw away vast quantities of food and perishables, which were rotting without electricity or refrigeration.
Photographed By Kathy Anderson.
An aerial shot of flooding in the aftermath of the storm.
Photographed By © Scott Goldsmith
A New Orleans man named Joseph Gould leaves town with his bike, the only transportation he had. He said his home and his car were destroyed by flood waters.