August 31, 2005: Hurricane Katrina Is Downgraded To A Tropical Depression

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At 10:00 PM CT, Mayor Ray Nagin announced that the planned sandbagging of the 17th Street Canal levee breach had failed. At the time, 85% of the city was underwater.

Michael Chertoff released a memo to other cabinet members and the Environmental Protection Agency stating that, “The President has established the ‘White House Task Force on Hurricane Katrina Response.’ He will meet with us tomorrow to launch this effort.”

President Bush returned early to Washington from vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Though he does not stop in Louisiana, Air Force One flies low over the Gulf Coast so that he can view the devastation in Air Force One. He later declared a Public Health Emergency for the Gulf Coast. 

Mayor Nagin ordered almost the entire New Orleans’ police force to abandon search and rescue missions and turn their attention toward controlling the widespread looting and a curfew is placed in effect. 

State workers began work at closing the 17th Street Canal breach, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adds additional resources to the task.

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