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NEW ORLEANS, LA - On the 7th year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's deadly assault on the United States, New Orleans braces for a second volley from Isaac, a tropical storm that has grown to a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds and which may reach Category 2 status.
Katrina was the sixth largest hurricane in recorded history and left over 1800 people dead in its wake. Total property damage was estimated at $81 billion, and the recovery is still on-going.
After passing through the Bahamas and Florida, the Category 3 storm, with winds topping 157 mph, made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, in Louisiana, following the same trajectory as Isaac and leaving destruction along the Gulf Coast, from Florida to Texas.
Due to the failing levee system in New Orleans, approximately 80 percent of the city and the parishes beyond suffered massive flooding for weeks. The flooding resulted in islands of rooftops where survivors prayed for rescue; it left hundreds of thousands homeless, many crammed into the Superdome; it destroyed historic landmarks and hundreds of established businesses; and it sparked a debate over the ability of FEMA to respond to a natural disaster of that magnitude.
Yesterday, as hurricane winds lashed the Louisiana coastline, local authorities closed the floodgates and prepared for the worst. New Orleans is now protected by a $14.5 billion Hurricane and Storm Damage RIsh Reduction System, including higher and stronger levees, walls, floodgates and pumps designed to withstand a Category 3 storm.
In a televised announcement yesterday morning, President Barack Obama told residents, "Now is not the time to tempt fate." The president said that FEMA has been on the ground in New Orleans for a week and was keeping him updated.
Isaac is expected to strike New Orleans early today, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012.