Responding to an Emerging Humanitarian Crisis in Louisiana and Mississippi: Urgent Need for Health Care "Marshall Plan"

Redlener, Irwin E.; Schang, Gabrielle

It is now clear that massive challenges are facing the recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the flooding of New Orleans. Evacuees from the hardest hit communities who are currently in extended shelter status, particularly those with limited economic means, may already formally fall under internationally accepted definitions of “internally displaced persons” (as distinct from “refugees” who cross international borders to escape persecution). More than 50% of the New Orleans pre-Katrina population of nearly 500,000 has not yet returned. Some have dispersed to other parts of Louisiana or many other states and may, in fact, be resettled with some success. A series of telephone surveys and structured observations by health and social services professionals over the past few months have underscored some of the major concerns emerging among displaced individuals.
A new study, the first comprehensive face-to-face field survey of residents in FEMA shelters based in Louisiana, conducted in February 2006 by David Abramson PhD, MPH and Richard Garfield RN, DrPH, has documented a series of extremely urgent needs which must be evaluated and addressed as quickly as possible . Failure to address these needs will potentially lead to permanent, highly significant consequences on the health, mental health, education and well-being of thousands of children and their families. The study, “On the Edge: Children and Families Displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Face a Looming Medical and Mental Health Crisis,”* was part of an on- going needs assessment by Operation Assist , a collaborative effort of the Children’s Health Fund and The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
National Center for Disaster Preparedness
The Children's Health Fund
Published Here
January 4, 2013