The storm surge also devastated the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, making Katrina themost destructive and costliestnatural disasterin the history of the United States, and thedeadliest hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane. The total damage from Katrina isestimated at $81.2 billion (2005U.S. dollars), nearly double the cost of the previously mostexpensive storm,Hurricane Andrew, when adjusted for inflation.
As of May 19, 2006, the confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at1,836, mainly from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238).
However, 705 peopleremain categorized as missing in Louisiana,
and many of the deaths are indirect, but it isalmost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.Federaldisaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles (233,000 km²) of the UnitedStates, an area almost as large as theUnited Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimatedthree million people without electricity. On September 3, 2005,Homeland SecuritySecretaryMichael Chertoff described the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as "probably the worstcatastrophe, or set of catastrophes," in the country's history, referring to the hurricane itself plus the flooding of New Orleans.
Katrina also had a profound impact on the environment. The storm surge caused substantialbeach erosion, in some cases completely devastating coastal areas. In Dauphin Island,approximately 90 miles (150km) to the east of the point where the hurricane made landfall,the sand that comprised thebarrier islandwas transported across the island into theMississippi Sound, pushing the island towards land.
The storm surge and waves fromKatrina also obliterated theChandeleur Islands, which had been affected by Hurricane Ivanthe previous year.
The US Geological Survey has estimated 217 square miles (560 km
) of land was transformed to water by the hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Overall, about 20%of the localmarsheswere permanently overrun by water as a result of the storm.
The damage from Katrina forced the closure of 16National Wildlife Refuges. Breton NationalWildlife Refuge lost half its area in the storm.
Finally, as part of the cleanup effort, the flood waters that covered New Orleans werepumped into Lake Pontchartrain, a process that took 43 days to complete.
These residualwaters contained a mix of rawsewage,bacteria, heavy metals,pesticides,toxic chemicals,
and about 6.5 million U.S. gallons (24.6 million L) of oil, which has sparked fears in thescientific community of massive numbers of fish dying.
Prior to the storm,subsidenceanderosioncaused erosion in the Louisiana wetlands and
bayous. This, along with the canals built in the area, allowed for Katrina to maintain more of its intensity when it struck.