Sunday, February 15, 2009

Elderly hardest hit by Katrina

Why Mayor Nagin was never brought up on charges of criminal negligence I don't know; the people of New Orleans rewarded him with reelection. There's an interesting report In Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, December 2008 , which was probably ignored by the media because you couldn't make a racial case for the victims. New Orleans was over 65% black, but the deaths were 51% black. So who suffered the most in proportion to their population count--the elderly. That's probably not too surprising, because when you think about it, even if the warning system and the bus transportation had worked, they might have been left behind. Although I don't think Governor Jindahl left them during Hurricane Ike. This report hadn't been published yet, but someone on his staff was probably smart enough to figure it out. It's really unfortunate that in 2005 the mayor and governor performed so poorly during that disaster.
    Results: We identified 971 Katrina-related deaths in Louisiana and 15 deaths among Katrina evacuees in other states. Drowning (40%), injury and trauma (25%), and heart conditions (11%) were the major causes of death among Louisiana victims. Forty-nine percent of victims were people 75 years old and older. Fifty-three percent of victims were men; 51% were black; and 42% were white. In Orleans Parish, the mortality rate among blacks was 1.7 to 4 times higher than that among whites for all people 18 years old and older. People 75 years old and older were significantly more likely to be storm victims (P < .0001).

    Conclusions: Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest hurricane to strike the US Gulf Coast since 1928. Drowning was the major cause of death and people 75 years old and older were the most affected population cohort. Future disaster preparedness efforts must focus on evacuating and caring for vulnerable populations, including those in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and personal residences. Improving mortality reporting timeliness will enable response teams to provide appropriate interventions to these populations and to prepare and implement preventive measures before the next disaster.

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