4. Hurricane Katrina Airlift
In September of 2005, the people of New Orleans became both the victims and the heroes of the largest rescue operation in American history. Nothing has destroyed so many of their lives as Hurricane Katrina and nothing brought them closer then the tremendous rescue operation that followed.
The 5,000 Coast Guard officers deployed to fly people to safety could never be as effective as they were if everyone didn’t work together. The fact that the officers were armed suggests that authorities were expecting survival instincts to prevail. Instead, people put aside all their differences and made sure those who are injured get help first, followed by the elderly, pregnant women and young children.
About 51,000 people were airlifted in the first week of September. Unfortunately, the death count – 1,833 – is also among the highest in U.S. history.