On August 29, 2005, a category 3 storm with 127mph winds made landfall between Grand Isle, Louisiana and the mouth of the Mississippi River: Hurricane Katrina had arrived in the American South.
Severe flooding affected Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana, causing $108 billion in damage and killing 1,833 people. FEMA described it as "the single most catastrophic natural disaster in US history" as well as the "costliest hurricane" ever.
Ten years on, however, one Chicago Tribune columnist believes such devastation could do her city in Illinois a world of good.
Under the headline "In Chicago, wishing for a Hurricane Katrina" (which has been changed to "Chicago, New Orleans, and rebirth"), Kristen McQueary, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, argues that a combination of "chaos, tragedy and heartbreak" helped to hit the reset button in New Orleans: the overthrow of a corrupt local government, the slashing of the city budget, the removal of dilapidated buildings and the reform of the public school system.
"Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth," McQueary writes, "I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago - an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops."
McQueary argues that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel continually passes budgets and he relies on excessive borrowing. She laments that no one in government will stand up to the mayor or change the way the mayor is running the city.
"That's why I find myself praying for a real storm. It's why I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters."
Hurricane Katrina - in pictures
Hurricane Katrina - in pictures
1/20 Hurricane Katrina
A woman is carried out of flood waters after being trapped in her home in Orleans parish during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
2/20 Hurricane Katrina
A U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat carries US Army 82nd Airborne Division soldiers as it searches a flooded street in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
3/20 Hurricane Katrina
A SUV lies against a house and rubble in Biloxi, Mississippi as Hurricane Katrina hit USA, 2005
4/20 Hurricane Katrina
A plea for help appears on the roof of a home flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
5/20 Hurricane Katrina
People are taken ashore in a boat after being rescued from their homes in high water in the Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina struck in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
6/20 Hurricane Katrina
An aerial view of the flooding near downtown New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina, 2005
7/20 Hurricane Katrina
Houses are seen submerged under water in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
8/20 Hurricane Katrina
Canal Street, in New Orleans, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005
9/20 Hurricane Katrina
Debris from Hurricane Katrina piles up along a bridge in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
10/20 Hurricane Katrina
Firefighters inspect damage left by Hurricane Katrina, in Biloxi, Mississippi, 2005
11/20 Hurricane Katrina
The Kids Quest (C) building sits in the middle of the route 90 next to the Grand Casino (L) 30 August 2005 in Gulfport, Mississippi, both damaged from the high wind and waves Hurricane Katrina, 2005
12/20 Hurricane Katrina
The most costly hurricane in history caused damages of $85bn. The category-3 storm formed over the Bahamas crossed Florida and the Gulf of Mexico before striking New Orleans
13/20 Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina evacuees sit on their bed, on the floor of the Astrodome stadium in Houston, Texas, 2005
14/20 Hurricane Katrina
People search for their belongings among debris washed up on the beach in Biloxi, Mississppi, after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, 2005
15/20 Hurricane Katrina
Parishioner Chloe Guice Wise (R) hugs Mark Washburn at the conclusion of services at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer (shown in background) which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, in Biloxi, Mississippi, 2005
16/20 Hurricane Katrina
Stranded victims of Hurricane Katrina are taken ashore by Air Force National Guard soldiers in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
17/20 Hurricane Katrina
Fishing boats lay in a pile after Hurricane Katrina passed through in Empire, Louisiana, 2005
18/20 Hurricane Katrina
U.S. Navy flight deck personnel take part in an emergency replenishment working party aboard the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), as they load water into an MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter in support of Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts in the Atlantic Ocean
19/20 Hurricane Katrina
A patriotic display can be seen in the ruins of a home in Waveland, Mississippi. Scenes like these dot the landscapes where homes once stood. Rescue and clean up efforts continued in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina three weeks after the deadly storm hit
20/20 Hurricane Katrina
A makeshift grave is seen for a woman on a downtown street in New Orleans, Louisiana, 2005
The opinion piece from McQueary received widespread condemnation online, with some describing it as the "most evil op-ed ever."
As someone who experienced Katrina first-hand, the ignorance in this column is trivializing, grotesque and upsetting, @StatehouseChick— Matt Baldwin (@thisbrokenwheel) August 13, 2015
@StatehouseChick Seriously?! I'm so appalled. It wasn't a "reboot", it was devastation. Still is. The city has NOT recovered.— Cinnamon Cooper (@cinnachick) August 13, 2015
You owe the survivors of Katrina and the people of Chicago an apology for wishing death on them and trivializing loss. @StatehouseChick— Janelle MoBae (@SorahyaM) August 14, 2015
In response to the backlash, McQueary defended her column, arguing that it did not diminish the devastation of Hurricane Katrina but instead mainly discussed government corruption and finances.
If you read the piece, it's about finances and government. I would never diminish the tragedy of thousands of lives lost.— Kristen McQueary (@StatehouseChick) August 13, 2015
The tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will be marked on August 29, 2015.Reuse content