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Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005, bringing winds of 140 miles per hour and storm waters that flooded more than 80 percent of New Orleans. Tragically, more than 1,800 people lost their lives and damages across the Gulf Coast topped $108 billion. A few weeks later, Hurricane Rita battered the area on September 24, extending the damage from eastern Texas to western Florida.

The two hurricanes littered the coast with tens of thousands of drums, storage tanks, and other containers holding oil, chemicals, and other hazardous materials. These storms' winds and waters also damaged, wrecked, and sank thousands of vessels along the Gulf Coast.

In the following months, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration surveyed vessels and containers potentially leaking fuel, oil, or other hazardous materials; flew missions to identify and document spill sources; conducted shoreline cleanup assessments; and used computer models to predict spill movement and determine pollution threats. We also provided guidance on marine debris and vessel salvage to address potential hazards to navigation and managed and mapped environmental response data.