As we near the 20-year Anniversary of Katrina, one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history, it is an opportune moment to document and commemorate that storm's impact on the entire Gulf Coast region. While Katrina has attracted much popular and scholarly attention in recent years, much of the coverage tends to focus on the devastation wrought on New Orleans. While this is understandable given the size and importance of New Orleans to the Southern US, this emphasis has risked overlooking other areas of the Gulf Coast that were no less impacted by the storm and its aftermath. This website is geared towards documenting the history and impact of Katrina on southern Mississippi, the scars of which are visible even today in Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Gulfport and other coastal areas. We believe that the photographs and stories that follow have the potential to impart important lessons in how communities survive, rebuild, and recover from disaster. Thank you for visiting our site!
Dr. Brendan Fay, Associate Professor, School of Library & Information Science
Dr. Jeff Hirschy, Assistant Professor, School of Library & Information Science
Timeline of Hurricane Katrina
August 23, 2005: What eventually becomes Hurricane Katrina forms over the Bahamas. The next day it would be officially named Katrina.
August 25, 2005: Now a hurricane, Hurricane Katrina makes its first landfall in South Florida. The highest winds are measured around 97 mph. After making this landfall, it quickly ventures into the Gulf of Mexico and heads towards the northwest.
August 27, 2005: Hurricane Katrina is now a Category 3 storm and is now headed to somewhere in Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama. There is now a hurricane warning from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border. Voluntary evacuations begin across the region.
August 28, 2005: Now a Category 4 storm with around 145 mph winds, Katrina jumps in power to a Category 5 storm quickly, with winds now around 175 mph, in the early morning of August 28th. The storm is now focused on the New Orleans area. Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans now calls for mandatory evacuations.
August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina makes its second landfall near New Orleans as a Category 3 storm but with Category 5 storm surges. Quickly, because of the massive storm surge, sometimes over 20 feet, associated with the storm, levees quickly collapse across the city. Over the next few hours, chaos will break out in the city as power is lost and the flood waters overwhelm both civilians and the government. Meanwhile, Hurricane Katrina continues its path of destruction and makes its third and final landfall near Pearlington, Mississippi. Like in New Orleans and Louisiana, cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Pass Christian to Biloxi suffer extreme damage, from destroyed bridges to collapsed buildings to a storm surge well beyond the storm's stated Category 3 strength. Hurricane Katrina moves up Mississippi and into the interior of North America.
August 31, 2005: Hurricane Katrina is downgraded to a tropical depression.
September 2-5, 2005: In the aftermath of the storm, chaos reigns in New Orleans and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast as civilians try to recover from the storm and governments try to reestablish order. While things are terrible everywhere, things are worse in New Orleans because of the complete breakdown of order in the city. President George W. Bush and the United States Senate and House of Representatives pass and sign legislation that will rush billions of dollars towards the region. Over the next few weeks, the Bush Administration will be severely criticized for its reaction to the storm and its aftermath. It will take weeks for power and water to return to the region.
October 4, 2005: The official death toll is established as 1836 with 1577 of those deaths coming in Louisiana, Mississippi 238, Florida 14, Alabama 2, Georgia 2, Tennessee 1, Kentucky 1. It will take New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast years to recover from the storm. To this day in 2023, there are still scars, physical, emotional, and other across the region. Everyone has stories from the storm and its aftermath and by Fall 2005, those storms are being formed, organized, and collected.
Special thanks go to the Mississippi Humanities Council, Casey Sullivan, Josh Cromwell, Jessica Clark, and Elizabeth La Beaud without whose invaluable financial, archival, and technical support this project would not have been possible.