New Orleans efter orkankatastrofen 2005 : Påverkan av naturförutsättningarna på socioekonomiska strukturen i regionen New Orleans

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för livsvetenskaper


The aim and purpose with this essay is to identify the natural conditions of the New Orleans City region, and to establish an understanding of the disastrous event of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Who lived in this area and how did this event affect the outcome of the disaster?

The theory is based on two Swedish human geographers Torsten Hägerstrand and Thomas Lundén, and their theories on regional geography and political geography, also regarded as “geopolitics”. Regional and Political Geography are explained as the relation between state and territory, power over the territory and the variables that affect the relations on different levels such as; economy, culture, technology, demography and communication.

The author decided to use the quantitative method in the process of research, the essay underwent an overall analyzes of the media settings, articles, written literature and documentaries. The author has been very critical to the material and data that was presented by the American authorities, media and non governmental organisations.

New Orleans City’s topography is unique in the matter that the city is constructed on a delta area, the Mississippi River, Missouri and Ohio River systems are all connected in New Orleans. That makes the land fragile, other contributing factors are the “Bowl-effect”, the city is placed under sea level between Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf coast, in a so called “bowl”.

New Orleans was first founded in 1718 by the French and remained a French colony till 1768 when Spain took over and was later returned to the USA in 1803. The area is very attractive on a trade perspective as well as for tourism. During the years the state have tried to manage the environment and build canals, levees and establish pumps to avoid storm surge and floods. Regarding the trade and commerce issue, New Orleans are a pathway between the oil in the Mexican Gulf Coast and the rest of the US via the Mississippi River and are also the link between the US and Europe.

The US is built on 50 federal states and is governed by the president and his establishment. The federal system is superior the local government and it was widely visible during the hurricane disaster. The local authorities were helpless and banded from additional help from superiors. The scarcity of communication between the governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco, the mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin, the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the President of the US George W. Bush were terrible, and caused the rescue resources to be delayed for over two days.

The hurricane disaster took over 1 800 human lives, flooded 80 % of the city and made over 160 000 inhabitants homeless and forced over 350 000 persons to leave their homes. The demography of New Orleans describes that over 70 % of the population are estimated to be African – Americans. The evacuation strategy failed when the poverty rate is high in the region and 120 000 persons do not own any vehicle, which made it difficult for people to move. And the crisis situation increased by the lack of effort from the authorities to help the abandoned. Normally during floods, people tend to reach for higher grounds to search for refuge. In New Orleans the effect was revised and people were drawn to the location recommended be the authorities of New Orleans, the Louisiana Superdome, whish is placed in the “bottom of the bowl”. All routes and ways were cut down between this area and the periphery.

This essay also discusses the segregation issues in New Orleans City and reflects on the ethnic discrimination charges that were laid on the government. The topic gets more difficult in relation to media representation; the media tend to put their own angles to the discussion. It is important to be critical to the realities that are given an presented.

The politicians are criticized for their management of the rescue resources and the obvious neglect of federal powers. Many of the efforts and management of resources were placed on guarding state-owned and private properties, military and police were stationed around the City to avoid people from stealing and looting.

In the end, the lack of relation between authority (the power) and the territory and its establishments and the non understanding of how to plan the city to live under better conditions in relation to this hazard area, have led to the results and consequences of the tremendous destruction after the Hurricane Katrina.

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