A Look Back: 32 Harrowing Photos of the Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina left the city of New Orleans underwater in a state of emergency. Lives were lost, homes were destroyed and a community was left to rebuild from the ground up. Though the city is slowly coming back to life, the devastation of the hurricane is never to be forgotten. Here are 32 of the most haunting photos from the tragedy.

ESSENCE.COM Aug, 26, 2015

1 of 32 Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Milvertha Hendricks, 85 at the time, sits wrapped in an American flag blanket outside New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as she waits with other Hurricane Katrina survivors for evacuation. 

2 of 32 Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

A man covers his face as 50-mph winds blow in advance of Hurricane Katrina.

3 of 32 Craig Warga/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Sean Penn helps an elderly man stranded by Hurricane Katrina through the floodwaters to safety on Napoleon St. in New Orleans. The Oscar-winning actor and political activist managed to reach several people who had been trapped in their homes since the killer storm hit Monday. Penn, who was accompanied by a crew of helpers, brought the victims to dry land - and gave them cash as well. Asked what he was doing in the disaster zone, Penn said, "Whatever I can do to help."  

4 of 32 Linda Rosier/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Leroy Fair Jr. salvages a photograph of his great-great-grandfather from his ruined home on Tupelo St. in New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward on his first day back. Mold has crept across the picture and the walls of the house. Fair is currently living in Houston, Tex., and says that, like many evacuees, he doesn't plan on returning to the Big Easy.  

5 of 32 Linda Rosier/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Requests for help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are written on the pavement of Burgundy St. in the Bywater section of New Orleans.  

6 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

National Guardsmen stand watch at barricades outside the Superdome as emotional refugees driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina await evacuation from the flooded city of New Orleans, La. Shots were fired and a near riot erupted at the arena as thousands who had taken shelter there fought to board the buses for the Astrodome in Houston, TX.  

7 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

A destroyed levee in the West End of New Orleans next to homes submerged under water in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco ordered a full-scale evacuation after levees weakened by the storm gave way and the waters of Lake Pontchartrain flooded the historic jazz city. 

8 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Refugees displaced by Hurricane Katrina rush to gather up boxes of military MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) dropped off by an Army helicopter outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La. The building became the epicenter of the city's agony; thousands of poor people and senior citizens await help, most surviving on little more than water and juice that the most desperate among them seized after smashing through the doors of a nearby grocery store.  

9 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Prisoners wait to be transported from the New Orleans jail due to extensive flooding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

10 of 32 Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Residents of the Mid-City district of New Orleans, La., trapped in their home by 12-foot-deep floodwaters, wait on their balcony for the arrival of rescuers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

11 of 32 Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Abandoned dogs rescued from the floodwaters ride on the bow of a fishing boat in the submerged Mid-City district of New Orleans, La. Residents who evacuated the Big Easy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were not allowed to take their animals along, so many of them were forced to choose between remaining at their barely-habitable homes or leaving their beloved pets behind.

12 of 32 Linda Rosier/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Cpl. Karl Krebsbach carries a tattered and muddied American flag he found as he and other Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., patrol a Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood for a second time to search for signs of life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

13 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

A mother and her children are rescued by boat from the Lower Ninth Ward during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana. Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds in excess of 135 mph.

14 of 32 ROBERT GALBRAITH/AFP/Getty Images

A plea for help appears on the roof of a home flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

15 of 32 Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

A military helicopter buzzes over the splintered remains of a house in the flooded Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, La., in a search for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Victims were airlifted out and boxes of food and water were dropped for those residents who chose to remain in the low-lying district, parts of which were swallowed up by 20 feet of water when the storm slammed the city.

16 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Light streaming down through the ceiling of the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana illuminates a ragged crowd of refugees taking shelter at the arena in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

17 of 32 Craig Warga/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

A man watches a house burn on Napolean St. as helicopters try to extinguish the fire by dropping water from above in Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. Because of the extensive flooding caused by the breaking of the city's levies, fire trucks were unable to reach burning homes and in some cases whole blocks burned to the ground.

18 of 32 Michael Appleton/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Trachelle Addison cuddles her 2-week-old son, Jirra-e, in the stands of the Superdome, where some 25,000 refugees took shelter after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Some day-old babies and premature infants were airlifted out of hospitals in the disaster area today - in some cases without their mothers.

19 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Water floods an above-ground cemetery outside Saint Patrick's Church in Plaquemines Parish in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

20 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Willie Cole fishes in front of a building destroyed by Hurricane Katrina's aftermath on Lake Pontchartrain near the 17th Street Canal in New Orleans. A breech in the 17th street canal levee flooded the Lakeview area with more than ten feet of water during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

21 of 32 ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Jones helps his grandmother Lucendia Jones, 74, as she visits her home for the first time since Hurricane Katrin in the Upper Ninth Ward. Most of the items in the home were ruined by flood waters over five feet high from Katrina and Rita.

22 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Jailed inmates sit in a temporary prison inside a Greyhound bus terminal n New Orleans. About 150 inmates who were accused of crimes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were held at the makeshift prison before being transfered to a state prison to stand trial.

23 of 32 NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

John Riley, 79, who was suffering from diabetes, sitting outside the Superdome in New Orleans waiting to be evacuated, six days after Hurricane Katrina hit the city. The chaos following Katrina showed millions of Americans that deep racial divides, poverty and racism persist in their country.

24 of 32 Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Four days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, hundreds of families traveled to the Louisiana Superdome to be evacuated from the city.

25 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Stranded families wait outside the Superdome to be evacuated. Thousands of troops poured into the city September on 2nd to help with security and delivery of supplies in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

26 of 32 Getty Images

Hardy Jackson Jr. (12) sits in the area where his home previously stood on Biloxi, Mississippi. Though Hardy, his siblings and his father survived the blow of the hurricane, his mother met a different fate. She was ripped from her husband's grip as they held onto a tree when the water rushed in. Mississippi confirmed death toll was over 120 by Thursday as more rescue teams combed the devasted areas.

27 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

A girl carries clothes as her family waits for assistance after being rescued from their home in high water after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Dozens of people in the area say they were rescued from their homes, but were then abandoned on the roadway with no food, water, or health care.

28 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

 A woman is carried out of flood waters after being trapped in her home in Orleans parish.

29 of 32 JAMES NIELSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Residents flee flood waters in a canoe. Hurricane-battered New Orleans was consumed by a catastrophe of unimagined scale, cut off from the outside world, submerged by rising floodwaters and troubled by signs of fraying public order.

30 of 32 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

People come out of their homes to a flooded street after Hurricane Katrina hit the area with heavy wind and rain.

31 of 32 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Residents wait in line to enter the Superdome which is being used as an emergency shelter before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.

32 of 32 Getty Images

A boy rides his bicycle past debris and a boarded up house marked with red spray-painted signs from Hurricane Katrina search and rescue teams still on the front entrance, in the Seventh Ward.

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