August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina slams into the coast of Louisiana, USA, in what was to become the costliest natural disasters – and one of the most deadly – in American history. Katrina made her first landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in Florida on August 23 but strengthened as she crossed the Gulf of Mexico. By the time she hit near New Orleans, she was recorded as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of more than 200 kilometres per hour. New Orleans bore the brunt of the storm, with levees breached in dozens of locations. The city’s mayor ordered an evacuation on August 28 but hundreds of thousands of people ignored the order. Katrina flooded some 80 percent of New Orleans, forcing tens of thousands of residents to take refuge in a convention centre and the Louisiana Superdrome. However shortages of food and water and a deteriorating hygiene situation provoked panic. The administration of President George W. Bush was roundly criticised for failing to respond; a full relief effort was not launched for two days. Areas of Mississippi and Alabama were also badly affected but of more than 1,800 deaths caused by the hurricane, over 1,500 were recorded in Louisiana.
Also on August 29: Portugal recognises Brazil’s independence (1825); founding of the city of Melbourne, Australia (1835); Estonian capital Tallinn is liberated of Soviet occupation (1941); the Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb (1949).
Born on August 29: Ingrid Bergman (1915), Charlie Parker (1920), Richard Attenborough (1923), John McCain (1936), Michael Jackson (1958).