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NOVA - Hurricane Katrina: The Storm That Drowned a City (2006)

Stacy Keach , Peter Thomas (VI) , Nova  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Stacy Keach, Peter Thomas (VI), Don Wescott
  • Directors: Nova
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 56 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,988 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "NOVA - Hurricane Katrina: The Storm That Drowned a City" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Printable materials for educators
  • Described video for the visually impaired
  • Access to the NOVA website

Editorial Reviews

The narration is melodramatic, some of the interviews feel stagy--but the footage of Hurrican Katrina and its horrendous aftermath is staggering. Hurrican Katrina - The Storm That Drowned a City, a NOVA special, begins a year earlier, when a team of scientists created a computer simulation of the destructive effect a powerful storm could have on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Though local officials took it seriously, the federal response was skeptical, and little was done to strengthen the city's protection. Using a combination of remarkable video of the developing storm and interviews with scientists, city residents (black and white), and member of the Army Corps of Engineers, Hurrican Katrina builds a compelling story of the disaster as it unfolded. Sophisticated graphics explain how hurricanes form and how the levees failed. The special touches lightly on the possibility that global warming may be exacerbating the intensity of hurricanes, but shies away from the political storm of the meager federal response to the devastation of New Orleans. The result is a vivid, detailed description of the natural disaster, but an incomplete portrait of the social one. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, killing at least 1,300, destroying over 600,000 houses, and turning downtown New Orleans into an uninhabitable swamp. In a compelling hour-by-hour reconstruction of the ferocious storm, NOVA exposes crucial failures in preparation and engineering that led to the worst disaster in U.S. history. The film probes the titanic forces behind hurricanes and the latest technology for tracking and predicting them, showing how scientists precisely foresaw the impact of a strong hurricane on New Orleans a year before Katrina struck. NOVA investigates the fatal flaws in New Orleansí levees and the huge challenge posed by protecting and rebuilding the city. As global temperatures rise, are killer storms like Katrina a growing threat?Hurricane Katrina: The Storm that Drowned a City presents astonishing storm footage, suspenseful eyewitness testimony, and a penetrating analysis of what went wrong. Viewers relive the storm through the eyes of survivors and the stories of top engineers, hurricane experts, and emergency officials as they grappled with the arrival of the storm and its traumatic aftermath.Special DVD features include: materials and activities for educators; a link to the NOVA Web site; scene selections; closed captions; and described video for the visually impaired. On one DVD5 disc. Region coding: All regions. Audio: Dolby stereo. Screen format: Letterboxed.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Nova's look at The Storm That Drowned a City is by and large an excellent study of Hurricane Katrina, concentrating on the storm itself and the failure of the levee systems in New Orleans. With no obvious political agenda, the documentary only touches upon the human aspect of the storm's aftermath, pointing no fingers at city, state, or federal government.

It's not as if Katrina took New Orleans completely by surprise, as the city had dodged "the big one" on a number of occasions, including the previous year. Ivan was a monster storm that changed direction at the last moment, sparing New Orleans, and everyone there must have breathed a sigh of relief. I find it hard to believe that some city officials scoffed at the dire findings from 2004's Hurricane Pam simulation of a major storm hitting the city - it's been common knowledge for decades that a powerful hurricane would flood New Orleans. It's a beautiful city, but let's face facts here: this is the last place anyone should have built a metropolis. We're talking about a bowl sitting several feet below sea level, bordered by the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchatrain, with the Gulf of Mexico within hailing distance. Expansion had robbed the city of what little protection it had from storm surges, and the outdated levee system hid a number of vulnerabilities throughout the city.

The documentary follows Katrina's path from its origins off the coast of Africa to its fateful rendezvous with the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. It offers one of the most understandable explanations for hurricanes I've ever heard - why they form, how they behave, etc.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Factual October 31, 2007
This DVD presentation, previously seen on public television, is an excellent review of an awful disaster, taking the viewer through an analysis of each stage of the storm. First was how it was formed off the African Coast and how it slowly became a disastrous force that hit New Orleans, a city unprepared and under-protected by inadequate levees. The DVD showed a 2004 training exercise for such a hurricane disaster -officials knew what could happen, but when it did, confusion reigned. There are so many mistakes and misjudgements that multiplied the sad outcome to the poorer residents of New Orleans. These people could not leave because of poor health and/or lack of transportation.

I was amazed at the filming of the storm, and how officials were shocked and emotionally wounded because they knew what would happen, and saw the awful aftermath of death and destruction and physical and mental suffering of innocents.

The hurricane's winds were overwhelming; however, the catastrophic storm surges, high waves from the hurricane that surged onto shore caused most of the deaths and were examined in great detail in this one hour documentary.

It was also pointed out that global warming seems to make hurricanes more intense and a growing threat as ocean temperatures rise.

The documentary is valuable in teaching us how many elements cause New Orleans to be a very risky place to live: The Mississippi River affects the wetlands replenishment of soil, the levees' strength and height, and New Orleans' location in a bowl-like area 6-7 feet below sea level.

New Orleans and all those who love the area have a gigantic problem to face up to. Much money and a long time span are involved in rebuilding the city in the right way. It needs 50 years to be done right, like the Delta Works in the Netherlands after the 1953 disaster. Good engineering and planning are crucial.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hurricane Katrina - A brief perspective November 15, 2007
A nice clean documentary.

I expected a little more either from a historical perspective of the city of New Oreleans or why the levees failed during Hurrican Katrina. This documentary gives a distant aerial perspective of what happened in one this country's most devastating events.

Spike Lee's documentary 'When The Levees Broke' is a far more poignant and revealing insight into what happened, how it happened, and why.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Balanced October 26, 2006
This is a well balanced movie about the storm, how it was tracked by the scientists and how the flooding of the city occured. It is a very even presentation mainly on what happened and not on who was to blame. Very interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting July 14, 2008
Nova really let me down on this one. This DVD tells us a lot of what we already knew from watching the news during that time. Other documentaries surrounding this event, such as the National Geographic one, introduced new information and explanations. If you've already seen the National Geographic one, don't bother with this one. It's a shame, too. I usually like Nova...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurricane Katrina by A Louisiana Resident May 29, 2010
I liked this movie despite other critics. This was a disaster beyond imaging. I lived in New Orleans for a number of years and grew to love the city. Some of my relatives were flooded out. I am from Louisiana and my first son was born in N.O. This video brought back sad memories.

The video captures some of the horror and hopefully educates folks about the non-response of our government.
Officials are shown to be idiots. Maybe this video and others will illustrate what should NOT be done in an enormous disaster like this.

Sara Howard, Author of "Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon" and "The Greatest Explosions in the Universe."
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