The two back-to-back hurricanes devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, causing damage that led to numerous oil and chemical spills along the heavily industrialized coast. (NOAA)

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. PHOTOS:

Podcast: What Was It Like Responding in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

In this podcast, hear from Charlie Henry and Dave Wesley, two of our pollution responders who were working in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Learn about their experiences responding to these storms, find out which memories stand out the most for them, and reflect on the toll of working in a disaster zone.

Surveying What Hurricane Katrina Swept out to Sea

The massive storm surge from Hurricane Katrina destroyed houses and infrastructure along the Gulf Coast.

When it receded, it washed out to sea massive amounts of what became marine debris.

In the years after, NOAA surveyed and mapped these wrecked vessels, containers, and other remnants from the storm.

Gulf of Mexico Marine Debris Project

To address marine debris impacts on the Gulf Coast, Congress tasked NOAA in July 2006 to survey and map nearshore waters impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to facilitate debris removal.

10 Years after Being Hit by Hurricane Katrina, Seeing an Oiled Marsh at the Center of an Experiment in Oil Cleanup

In the midst of a hectic and widespread response following two hurricanes, burning oil out of marshes seemed like a potentially risky move at the time.

NOAA was involved in the decision to burn the oil out of a Louisiana marsh to help it recover.

See how we did it then and how the marsh has since recovered 10 years later.