Katrina made landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana on 29 August 2005, with
sustained wind speeds of approximately 200 km/h. Katrina submerged 80%
of the city under water. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
quickly declared a public health emergency. The Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) declared an area roughly equivalent to the size of the United
Kingdom as a disaster area.
The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization are collaborating
with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the federal
and state levels and with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), providing
technical collaboration in a number of public health areas.
Almost four weeks later, Hurricane Rita dealt another devastating blow
to the same area, causing flooding to reoccur in New Orleans and other
low-lying areas of the state of Louisiana. This time, however, the state
of Texas suffered the direct brunt of the storm. The fact that several
million people chose to heed evacuation warnings may have contributed
to the reduced death toll.
As the emergency response phase gradually transitions into
recovery and rehabilitation and as emergency lifesaving activities
slowly wind down, other areas of public health emerge as important
Hospitals: an important opportunity is at hand to rebuild
these critical facilities, incorporating disaster mitigation measures
to reduce their vulnerability to the avoidable consequences of disasters.
Health: Given the many pressing public health concerns
in the aftermath of disasters, mental health care for disaster victims
can be overlooked early on. Read
more about mental health services and stress management.
Aid: The arrival of aid from outside an affected area
can pose a serious challenge, particularly if it has not been requested,
is inappropriate for the situation or diverts personnel from other
more pressing tasks. Read
more about this issue.
Safety: another serious public health problem in the
aftermath of disasters. Consult
the guidelines produced by WHO and FAO on this topic and learn about
links to other WHO publications that help reduce the threat to public
health of inadequate food safety measures.
Effects of Disasters
||ReliefWeb As the world’s
leading on-line gateway to information on humanitarian emergencies
and disasters, ReliefWeb is administered by the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). List
of updated news and press releases on Hurricane Katrina.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention has remained at the forefront of public health
efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries,
workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats.
The CDC Foundation, the non-profit partner of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), is seeking donations for the Emergency
Preparedness & Response Fund. Contributions to the fund will aid
CDC and the network of U.S. state and local health departments involved
in the public health response to Hurricane Katrina. The CDC Foundation
is using the fund to help meet immediate public health needs as well
as to help plan for the long term public health needs of the region.
Contributions can be made online at www.cdcfoundation.org
or by calling toll free, 1-888-880-4CDC.
||Department of Health
and Human Services HHS is the United States government's principal
agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential
human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
||FEMA The Federal
Emergency Management Agency is tasked with leading U.S. efforts to
prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal
response and recovery efforts following any national incident.
News Center News from the UN on the response to Katrina.
Cross Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people's immediate
emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes,
the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and mental health
services to address basic human needs. In addition to these services,
the core of Red Cross disaster relief is the assistance given to individuals
and families affected by disaster to enable them to resume their normal
daily activities independently.
Complete List of Disaster Links
Information Kit on Hurricanes
National Library of Medicine Links to health information including
toxicology and environmental health
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): In an effort to help restore
family links, the ICRC - in close cooperation with the American Red
Cross offers services to all those seeking information about relatives
who may have been affected by hurricane Katrina.
Produces Spanish-Language Radio Spots for the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
These ten 1-minute spots, produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS), can be freely used by interested radio
Needs and Assessment Forms
PAHO/WHO’s Disaster Response Team in Latin America and the Caribbean
uses the forms below to standardize the early collection of data on damage
and needs in the health sector following disasters. They can be modified
Nations Assistance for United States Relief Efforts
(New York, 6 September): The United Nations has initially mobilized three
inter-agency teams to work on logistics and coordination in conjunction
with United States authorities, having been informed on 3 September of
the United States’ acceptance of the Organization’s offer
of assistance. Read More
Raises Health Concerns
Director Offers Help to U.S. Health Secretary Mike Leavitt
Public health experts are evaluating the health impact of hurricane Katrina
and its aftermath among survivors in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi,
and Alabama. (01 September 2005) Read
For additional information on natural disasters, please visit the Publications
Catalog of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Area of
the Pan American Health Organization.
American Ministers Express Condolences to Hurricane Victims
The Ministers of Health of Central America and the Dominican Republic,
at their annual RESSCAD meeting which opened August 31 in Belize,
passed a resolution recognizing the tremendous health impact of
the disaster, expressing their condolences to the victims and offering
the collaboration of governments and agencies in the region. (Resolution)
there a risk of storm disease?
US government has declared a public health emergency following Hurricane
Katrina. But just how likely is it that diseases will take a hold?
Michael Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, said a
public health emergency was in place from Louisiana to Florida.
He warned there were grave concerns about cholera, typhoid and dehydrating
diseases, while others said West Nile Virus could be a problem.
But health experts are predicting the impact will be somewhat more
More (external link)