The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active season on record and produced 3 category five storms, namely Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma. The article explores the impact these storms had on the Gulf Coast of the USA. It highlights the effect that Hurricane Katrina had on the structure of New Orleans and also on the people who stayed in the city. Those who stayed were deemed to be the socially vulnerable, and issues of race, ethnicity and poverty were raised. Hurricane Katrina brought national awareness to the deficiencies in preparedness and response to disasters, especially in urban areas. The reconstruction of the area, the rebuilding of peoples' lives and the impact of demographic change are also explored in the article.