In 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast. New Orleans, a city that sits below sea level and is precariously protected by an aging levee system, didn't stand a chance. The storm damage, combined with the subsequent flooding, ended up taking nearly 2,000 lives, and property damage was estimated at $81 billion — the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.
Although the initial disaster response to the hurricane was heavily criticized, the city bears mentioning here because it is on the rebound. According to estimates made in 2010, just five years after one of the worst catastrophes in U.S. history, unemployment in New Orleans is lower than the U.S. average, and median income has risen 1.7 percent, compared with a decrease of 7.1 percent in the U.S. average. More work needs to be done, of course, but the city is well on its way to recovery.