How the Federal Reserve Responded to Hurricane Katrina

March 15, 2016

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf of Mexico coast in August 2005, but a functioning payment system helped residents get basic necessities in a dire situation.


Transcript: St. Louis Fed Memphis Branch Helps

Karl Ashman, St. Louis Fed: In times of crisis, we can play a critical role in the effective functioning of payment systems which touch the lives of virtually every American.

Narrator: In the months following Hurricane Katrina, the Fed spent a number of weeks burning millions of water-soaked, moldy bills — in all, over 190 million worth of cash.

Ashman: Initially, the Memphis Branch — given its location in western Tennessee and being close to the Mississippi border — actually provided cash directly into the affected region. The fact that we were able to provide currency, we kept the economy flowing so that even in a dire situation, people could still get the basic necessities of life.


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