TIME weather

This Graphic Shows How Hurricane Katrina Changed New Orleans

How one of the nation's deadliest storms left an American city a different place

Correction appended

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, after gaining strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Within days the city’s levees collapsed, tens of thousands were left stranded in their homes, and thousands more sought shelter at the city’s Superdome, where conditions rapidly deteriorated. Almost 2,000 people died in the storm, and hundreds of thousands were forced to relocate, some permanently.

Ten years on, New Orleans is a city still recovering, a place where the storm’s path still leaves a scar. The costliest hurricane on record dramatically changed the city’s demographics, neighborhoods, and economy. Below, this graphic helps illustrate how one of the nation’s deadliest hurricanes forever altered an American city.


Correction: This graphic originally misstated the costs of various hurricanes. They are in the billions of dollars.

Read next: New Orleans, Here &

TIME conflict

This Graphic Shows How Blood Diamonds Arrive in the U.S.

There are many loopholes in the global supply chain

The diamond industry created the Kimberley Process in 2003 to reassure consumers that their gemstones had not been used to finance conflicts.

But while the Kimberley Process removed some conflict diamonds from the market, many still slip through loopholes along the supply chain, as detailed in the TIME article Blood Diamonds. Another problem is that the Kimberley Process’ narrow definition of “conflict diamond” does not include some of the practices in diamond mining and sale that consumers find troubling, including environmental degradation, child labor, worker exploitation and state-sanctioned violence. That allows for unethically sourced gems to end up in stores in the U.S.

This graphic shows how conflict diamonds can easily become part of the global supply chain:


Read Next: TIME’s Report on Blood Diamonds

TIME Natural Disasters

These Are the Cities Most Vulnerable to the Next Katrina

Katrina Changing City New Orleans
Gerald Herbert—AP Empty lots and new buildings dot the Lower 9th Ward section of New Orleans on July 29, 2015.

'The entities that were most resilient were the ones who are best at preparing for the worst'

Where should we expect the next Hurricane Katrina to hit? Despite 10 years of work and some $15 billion in investment in disaster preparedness, experts say we may still want to look to New Orleans.

Identifying the places facing the most serious risk of a devastating hurricane requires a two-pronged approach: figuring out where the next big storm is likely to strike and determining how well those locations have prepared.

In Louisiana, federal dollars have funded the creation of a 133-mile levee system designed to protect the city from a once in 100-year storm. (That means, there’s a 1% chance that a storm of that size will occur on any given year.) As a storm approaches, officials can close off 220-ton gates and activate pumps that remove rainwater from the city’s sewage system. The pumps—the world’s largest—could fill the Superdome with water in 90 seconds.

At a cost of nearly $15 billion, the system wasn’t cheap. But it may not be enough to withstand the next serious storm, one that will likely be exacerbated by global warming and changing conditions in New Orleans. For one, land in the city is sinking at a rate of nearly half an inch each year due in part to changes in the soil that have resulted from human settlement. The occurrence, known technically as subsidence, has left many parts of the sea below sea level and especially vulnerable to flooding.

And, while the city sinks, climate change has been contributing to higher sea levels, further exacerbating flood risk. Around the globe, sea levels are estimated to rise 1 to 3 feet by 2100 due to climate change. Policymakers say storm surge, a phenomenon that raises sea levels during storms and pushes ocean water onto land, has them particularly concerned. And, in recent months, research has suggested that chances of storm surge are worse than previously believed.

“Looking forward, New Orleans is faced with a double-whammy. The land on which the city is built is sinking, even faster than the sea levels are rising,” said Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at Risk Management Solutions.

The new levees may protect New Orleans from a 100-year event in 2015 terms, but all bets are off looking 50 or 100 years into the future. And that says nothing about what will happen if the city faces a 500-year storm. Research from RMS suggests that New Orleans currently has a 1-in-440 chance of suffering from a storm that causes $15 billion in economic loss in any given year. By 2100, that number will be down to 1-in-315 under conservative estimates and the assumption that the city continues to upgrade its current infrastructure, according to RMS.

It’s also unclear how much meaning those older storm predictions have in a global warming age. Scientists disagree on whether Katrina itself was a 100-year event, a 500-year event, or even greater. The models that go into calculating 100-year storms are constantly changing, yet the levee system, once built, will be fixed.

Some officials in Louisiana hope that they will be able to do more than work with what they already have built. A task force put together a $50 billion master plan in 2012 that was meant to more fully provide protections against devastating losses. The plan calls for a slew of different protection measures, from paying for homeowners to elevate their houses to construction of more levees.

But with a hefty price tag, funding for the program has fallen fall short of what’s needed. Nonetheless, the program sets priorities when funding does begins to flow to the region again, said RAND researcher Jordan Fischbach, who led the flood risk assessment team for the master plan.

“Do you want this to be total protection?” asked Robert Muir Wood, chief research officer at Risk Management Solutions (RMS). “The government was not prepared to invest that much.”

But, while New Orleans still has much work to do to prepare fully for the next storm, in some ways the storm has been a helpful reminder—albeit a painful one. For other regions that haven’t prepared, the next storm could only be a season away. According to RMS, three cities beyond New Orleans face especially high chances of large-scale damages: Miami, Tampa and New York City. Currently, Tampa faces a 1-in-80 annual chance of a storm surge event causing more than $15 billion in damage. The odds are 1-in-125 in Miami and 1-in-200 in New York City.

Motivating those regions to prepare, and pay for it, will be a tough task. In efforts to combat climate change, national efforts often focus on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, while local policy makers often work to make cities and communities able to withstand climate-related natural disasters. In many places, like Florida, there’s little motivation to spend time thinking about how climate change may make the next storm worse. Though the state contains two of the four cities most threatened by rising sea levels, state policies have created a roadblock to preparation.

“The disconnect is big,” Christina DeConcini, director of government affairs at the World Resources Institute, told TIME earlier this year. “At some point it’s going to have to close.”

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

TIME Crime

Watch WDBJ Anchors Pay Silent Tribute to Their Slain Colleagues

"The peacefulness of our community was shattered"

About 24 hours after two of their colleagues were fatally shot during a live broadcast, the staff of Virginia television station WDBJ honored them with a moment of silence Thursday morning.

The three anchors were visibly emotional and holding hands as they remarked on the deaths of journalist Alison Parker and camera operator Adam Ward. “The peacefulness of our community was shattered,” anchor Kim McBroom says. “As we approach that moment, we want to pause and reflect.”

She then asks viewers to hold a moment of silence as Parker and Ward’s images are projected on the screen.

Parker and Ward were gunned down during a live broadcast Wednesday morning by Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled former employee. Flanagan died later that day from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Virginia Gunman Was Urged to Seek Medical Help, According to Internal Memos

Vester Flanagan was aggressive and argumentative with colleagues

The Virginia gunman Vester Flanagan, who killed two co-workers as they filmed a live broadcast was told by his bosses to seek medical help, according to internal memos seen by the Guardian.

The memos detail a series of disputes between Flanagan and his colleagues, dating from two months after Flanagan started working at the CBS affiliate station WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia. The memos were written by Dan Dennison, the station director at the time.

Flanagan died in hospital on Wednesday from self-inflicted gunshot wounds after shooting reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward as they filmed a piece on local tourism. The interviewee, Vicky Gardner, of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, was also shot but is being treated in hospital.

Flanagan, 41, was first reprimanded in May 31, 2012, according to the memos, for making his colleagues feel “threatened and extremely uncomfortable” after he lost his temper on two occasions. During that instance, Flanagan insisted that a cameraman record an interview in a certain way, which, according to the memo, made both the photographer and interviewee uncomfortable.

By 30 July 2012, Flanagan, was told by Dennison to contact employee assistance professionals at the company Health Advocate, due to continued displays of anger towards co-workers. He was told in one memo, ” Under no circumstances should you engage in harsh language, demonstrate aggressive body language, or lash out at a photographer in front of members of the public. You must make improvements immediately or you will face termination of employment.”

He was eventually fired in February 2013 due to “unsatisfactory job performance and inability to work as a team member,” according to his termination notice. His last day is detailed in a series of memos where Flanagan reportedly became angry and called it “bullshit.”

Flanagan had “a long series of complaints against co-workers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station,” said Dennison, in an interview with a Hawaii station, Hawaii News Now (KHNL/KGMB). “All of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded.” Though the claims were along racial lines, he said, “we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.” The victims of Wednesday’s shooting — Parker, 24, and Ward, 27 — were white; Flanagan was black.

Hours after he shot his former co-workers then posted video of the attack to his Facebook page, Flanagan crashed a vehicle and shot himself. He died at a hospital later Wednesday, authorities said.

The conflict described by Dennison, who is now an official with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, in many ways echoed another, in 2000, when Flanagan was fired from a Tallahassee, Florida, television station after threatening fellow employees, a former supervisor said.

Flanagan “was a good on-air performer, a pretty good reporter and then things started getting a little strange with him,” Don Shafer, the former news director of Florida’s WTWC-TV said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on Shafer’s current employer, San Diego 6 The CW.

Shafer said managers at the Florida station fired Flanagan because of his “bizarre behavior.”

“He threatened to punch people out and he was kind of running fairly roughshod over other people in the newsroom,” said Shafer, who did not immediately return a call from AP for comment.

Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, who worked with Flanagan at the Florida station, recalled him as “off-kilter” and someone who “never really made himself part of the team.”

Recalling one of a number of incidents, Wilmoth said that co-workers meant to tease Flanagan for a story he did on a spelling bee that made it sound as if the winner would get a case of Girl Scouts, rather than cookies sold by the group.

“The next day, somebody had a Girl Scout emblem on their desk and we made some copies of it and taped them to his computer,” she said. “If he had only laughed we would have all been friends forever. But he didn’t laugh … he got mad. And that was when I realized he wasn’t part of the collegiality that exists in a newsroom and he removed himself from it.”

In 2000, Flanagan sued the Florida station over allegations of race discrimination, claiming that a producer called him a “monkey” in 1999 and that other black employees had been called the same name by other workers. Flanagan also claimed that an unnamed white supervisor at the station said black people were lazy because they did not take advantage of scholarships to attend college. The parties later reached a settlement.

Flanagan grew up in Oakland, California, where he was a homecoming prince one year at Skyline High School. Virgil Barker, who grew up on the same tree-lined street, recalled his childhood friend Wednesday with fondness.

“I know you want to hear that he was a monster, but he was the complete opposite,” Barker said. “He was very, very loving.”

Barker said he had lost touch with Flanagan over the years but remained close to Flanagan’s sister, who still lives in the family’s home across the street.

No one answered the door Wednesday morning at the white stucco house, with fruit trees in the front yard overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Flanagan graduated from San Francisco State University. A former classmate, Pamela Rousseau of Danville, Calif., said Flanagan was a bit “flamboyant” and eager to be the front man when presenting students’ findings.

Before and after his work in Florida, Flanagan, who also appeared on-air using the name Bryce Williams, worked at a series of stations around the country.

They included a stint in 1996 at KPIX, a San Francisco station, where a spokeswoman confirmed he worked as a freelance production assistant. From 1997 to 1999, he worked as a general assignment reporter at WTOC-TV in Savannah, Georgia. From 2002 to 2004, he worked as a reporter and anchor at WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina, general manager and vice president John Lewis said.

A former co-worker at the California station, Barbara Rodgers, recalled him only vaguely as “a young, eager kid out of journalism school,” who “just wanted to be on TV and to do a good job.”

Working in Georgia years ago, Flanagan was “tall, good looking and seemed to be really nice, personable and funny,” said a former fellow reporter, Angela Williams-Gebhardt, who now lives in Ohio. The station’s former news director, Michael Sullivan, said Flanagan was relatively inexperienced, but did a decent job, without any apparent problems.

But at Roanoke’s WDBJ, Flanagan “got in lots of arguments with people,” said LaRell Reynolds, a former production worker at the station. “I don’t think anyone liked the guy.”

After managers fired Flanagan, he worked as a call center representative for UnitedHealthcare in Roanoke from late 2013 to November 2014, the company said.

But in the days before the shootings, Flanagan assembled photos of himself on Twitter and Facebook, as if preparing to introduce himself to a wider audience. The postings continued after the shooting, when he tweeted that Parker had “made racist comments” and Ward had complained to human resources about him. Then, Flanagan posted video of the shooting online, showing him repeatedly firing at a screaming Parker as she tried to flee.

In a rambling 23-page letter sent by fax Wednesday to ABC News soon after the shooting, Flanagan said he’d been discriminated against both for being black and gay. He listed grievances dating back to the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech and the more recent massacre of worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

“I’ve been a human powder keg for a while,” Flanagan wrote in the note, “just waiting to go BOOM!!!!

Read next: What We Know About Virginia Shooting Victims Alison Parker and Adam Ward

Listen to the most important stories of the day


Watch ‘The Boatman’ Chronicling Life in New Orleans 10 Years After Katrina

The debut of the Time Inc. Studios video series, New Orleans, Here & Now

Joseph and Selina Gonzales, have been married for 70 years and live in Yscloskey, 30 miles from New Orleans. Joseph, who’s gone blind, plans to finish the 60-foot boat in his yard. Joseph’s boat is one of the only things that held up during Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall 10 years ago this week. Though the storm destroyed all the houses in the area, Joseph’s boat lost a mast and sails but remained anchored in the flooding. The couple hopes to get the boat into the water before next hurricane comes. “That you can’t count on,” Joseph says. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in life.”

Created by director Zack Godshall, “The Boatman” is part of a six-part series New Orleans, Here & Now from Time Inc. Studios and Rampante, premiering this week.

To see more from that series, visit here.


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