Remembering Hurricane Katrina 15 Years Ago Today in Photographs and Video — August 29 2020

Fifteen years ago today — on Monday, August 29, 2005 — the landfall of one of the most powerful hurricanes in recorded history and one of the five deadliest hurricanes occurred near the town of Buras-Triumph in southeastern Louisiana on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the United States.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina 15 Years Ago Today in Photographs and Video — August 29 2020

The Tivoli Hotel was one of the ten most endangered landmarks in Mississippi, with plans to save it — until Hurricane Katrina damaged it beyond repair. The building was demolished in May of 2006. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

With as many as 1,836 fatalities in seven states combined with property damage estimated at $125 billion, Hurricane Katrina — which first formed in the Atlantic Ocean north of Haiti on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 — was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, and the costliest tropical cyclone in recorded history which has since been tied for that title only by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

At least a quarter inch of thick wet mud caked the floor of this house in the town of Pass Christian in Mississippi. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to the devastation of much of the city of New Orleans — approximately 80 percent of which was inundated by floodwaters due to the failure of the engineering flaws of its levee system, which was supposed to protect the city from floods — one particular area which was among the hardest hit was the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Devastation was widespread from Bay Saint Louis to Pascagoula; from Long Beach to Biloxi; from Gulfport to Ocean Springs.

Hurricane Katrina Biloxi Bay Bridge Mississippi

A section of United States Highway 90 simply juts up to nowhere as the Biloxi–Ocean Springs Bridge was destroyed. The new Biloxi Bay Bridge — which was widened from four lanes to six lanes when it was rebuilt, with no more draw bridge to hold up traffic — replaced the old bridge and opened to traffic in November of 2007. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

“Out with the old, in with the new” is not a bad saying by which to abide; but it can be quite unpleasant when it is forced upon you — and there is nothing you can do about it but forge ahead, as many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina had to do in 2005…

This dock and pier at Point Cadet on the eastern end of Biloxi was extensively damaged. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

…but then again, it meant a new beginning.

The dirt and aggregate underneath the approach of United States Highway 90 had severely eroded; and the highway itself simply broke into pieces. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Camille — the benchmark hurricane which occurred in 1969 and had been remembered every year since — suddenly became an incomparable stepchild to the unimaginable power wielded by Katrina. Whole neighborhoods disappeared. Roads were washed away. Dead brown trees stood, bent and cracked in what was left of once wooded areas. A casino was laid to rest on top of a hotel. Venerable structures which withstood the wrath of Camille did not have a chance against Katrina.

Coffins were washed away and tombstones were tossed about during the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

In early September of 2005 — fewer than two weeks after the unmerciful Katrina finally departed — I traveled to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to volunteer and assist the victims of this event, as I knew people whose homes and lives had suddenly been severely affected. As I helped them out, I shot hundreds of photographs documenting what to me seemed like an unbelievable landscape of sheer destruction.

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Brian Cohen is on the right, wearing a mask and standing with the owner of the house in the background, committed to fighting the mud on the floors with power washing equipment. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

I returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in March of 2006 — and the devastation was still widespread. This video — which has never been publicly seen until now — shows via an exclusive private tour as to what the city of Biloxi looked like on Friday, March 24, 2006 and Saturday, March 25, 2006.

Whole city blocks of houses were wiped clean — save for a smattering of live oak trees and partial concrete driveways which lead to nowhere — as though the houses, buildings, and structures never existed.


Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

If nothing else as the sun set that day, one thing was for certain: the sun — as well as the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans — will rise again…

…and rise they did.

Note how high the water line reaches on the wall, indicating that the flood was at least as high as five feet. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

For more photographs and essays of my personal experiences in helping with the cleanup, please refer to the following eight articles in remembering Hurricane Katrina in photographs in 2005 — as well as an additional article which shows satellite views of what Biloxi looked like in 2005, 2006, and 2012:

All photographs ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Remembering Hurricane Katrina 15 Years Ago Today in Photographs and Video — August 29 2020”

  1. NB_ga says:

    Beautifully photographed tribute to this devastating experience. Truly amazing is the will and determination of its survivors.

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