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Experiences Of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees In Houston Shelters: Implications For Future Planning.
Published 2006 · Medicine
OBJECTIVES To shed light on how the public health community can promote the recovery of Hurricane Katrina victims and protect people in future disasters, we examined the experiences of evacuees housed in Houston area shelters 2 weeks after the hurricane. METHODS A survey was conducted September 10 through 12, 2005, with 680 randomly selected respondents who were evacuated to Houston from the Gulf Coast as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Interviews were conducted in Red Cross shelters in the greater Houston area. RESULTS Many evacuees suffered physical and emotional stress during the storm and its aftermath, including going without adequate food and water. In comparison with New Orleans and Louisiana residents overall, disproportionate numbers of this group were African American, had low incomes, and had no health insurance coverage. Many had chronic health conditions and relied heavily on the New Orleans public hospital system, which was destroyed in the storm. CONCLUSIONS Our results highlight the need for better plans for emergency communication and evacuation of low-income and disabled citizens in future disasters and shed light on choices facing policymakers in planning for the long-term health care needs of vulnerable populations.