Mary Tutwiler

Memorial to Katrina's dead may be dedicated today

by Mary Tutwiler

The third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is an occasion to take a moment to remember those  lost in the storm. The city of New Orleans has been building a monument to those unclaimed souls, 85 of them, who are either still unidentified, or have not been claimed by families too poor, too scattered, or to emotionally shattered to deal with their burial. Six mausoleums are being constructed in the shape of the swirl of a hurricane, a fitting memorial to lives lost in Katrina’s floodwaters. The city is scrambling to finish the monument in time for a jazz funeral to be held today. But with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf of Mexico, the jazz funeral most likely will be canceled, plans for the dedication service are still in place.

Meanwhile, a report to be published in the American Medical Associations’s _Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Journa_l states that nearly 1,000 people died as a direct result of Katrina. The report, Hurricane Katrina Deaths: Louisiana 2005, released online yesterday, ahead of the October publication, accounts for 986 Katriana-related deaths. The lead cause of death was drowning, at 40 percent. Injury, trauma and heart conditions followed as the next highest fatal incidents. The elderly were the most vulnerable, half of the total victims were over 75. Eighty percent of the victims died the day of the storm.

Study co-author Raoult Ratard, M.D., Louisiana State Epidemiologist, says that the study will help disaster planners focus on vulnerable populations and aid in future situations of those who need assistance both in determining when and how to evacuate.