Anyone who went through the ordeal in Mississippi or Louisiana of Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago — especially the recovery from the massive storm — may find it difficult to concede that other hurricane victims had it worse.
But Hurricane Dorian, which has moved through the Caribbean Sea and alongside the southeastern United States coastline over the past week, is putting that theory to the test.
Katrina’s legacy is flooding New Orleans, destroying Bay St. Louis and knocking out electricity in the entire southern half of Mississippi. Hundreds died, mostly in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, and the hurricane left billions of dollars in property damage.
Katrina was larger than most hurricanes and moved more slowly, but it was gone in about nine hours on Aug. 29, 2005. When Hurricane Dorian arrived at the northern part of the Bahamas island chain a few days ago, it stayed there for a very long time.
Dorian, which has ranged from a Category 3 to Category 5 hurricane, basically sat still over the Bahamas for 36 hours — roughly four times longer than Louisiana and Mississippi endured Katrina.
It’s no surprise that pictures from the Bahamas show immense storm surge flooding and property devastation. A full account of the damage and loss of life is probably days or weeks away.
Dorian is not finished. When it finally left the Bahamas, the hurricane moved north along the Florida and Georgia coastlines. Although weakened by Friday to a Category 1 storm, it flooded homes on North Carolina’s Outer Banks before moving on to where it’s supposed to do the next significant damage, in eastern Canada.
Although the storm continues to move more slowly than most hurricanes, at least it is moving. Residents of the Bahamas were not that fortunate. Their experience is a reminder that for all of Hurricane Katrina’s damage, things could have been worse — even though nobody believed that at the time.
It is hard to imagine how many people might have died, how many buildings would have given way or how many pines and oaks would have toppled if Katrina had stayed over Mississippi for 36 hours.