Natural Hazards

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 413–434 | Cite as

Damage to residential buildings due to flooding of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina

  • Aimilia K. Pistrika
  • Sebastiaan N. Jonkman
Original Paper


This article analyzes the direct damage to residential buildings caused by the flooding of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina in the year 2005. A public dataset has been analyzed that contains information on the economic damage levels for approximately 95,000 residential buildings in the flooded area. The relationship between the flood characteristics and economic damage to residential buildings has been investigated. Results of hydrodynamic flood simulations have been used that give insight in water depths and flow velocities in the study area. In general, differences between the three polders in the observed distributions of damage estimates are related to differences in flood conditions. The highest damage percentages and structural damage mainly occurred in areas where higher flow velocities occurred, especially near the breaches in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. Further statistical analysis indicated that there is not any strong one-to-one relationship between the damage percentage and the water depth or the depth–velocity product. This suggests that there is considerable uncertainty associated with stage-damage functions, especially when they are applied to individual structures or smaller clusters of buildings. Based on the data, a more general approach has been proposed that could be used to distinguish different damage zones based on water depth and flow velocity for an area that is affected by flooding due to breaching of flood defenses. Further validation of existing damage models with the dataset and further inclusion of information on building type in the analysis of damage levels is recommended.


Flooding Damage Residential buildings Damage function Depth–velocity product Hurricane Katrina New Orleans 



Bob Maaskant (HKV Consultants and Delft University) and Marinus Aalberts (Delft University and Witteveen en Bos) provided the authors with the results of the flood simulation project “Polder Flood Simulations for Greater New Orleans—Hurricane Katrina August 2005”. The damage dataset was initially edited by Ezra Boyd and then updated by Carol Friedland, both researchers at Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. The work presented in the paper was partially supported by the State Scholarship Foundation of Greece and BC Hydro (Canada).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Assessment of Natural Hazards and Proactive PlanningNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Delft University and Royal HaskoningDelftThe Netherlands

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