Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on August 29, 2005, resulted in the loss of more than one thousand lives in New Orleans and surrounding areas in eastern Louisiana. On September 23, Hurricane Rita caused extensive property damage in the western parishes of Louisiana, including Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermilion. Hundreds of thousands of persons were displaced from their homes, either because of voluntary evacuation before the hurricanes or mandatory evacuation from uninhabitable areas after the hurricanes. For weeks, and occasionally months, many displaced persons stayed in shelters established by government authorities, the American Red Cross, and churches and other community organizations. During the immediate post-hurricane period, extensive media attention was paid to the potential grave public health consequences of the disaster.
The report is volume three in a series detailing post-Katrina field investigations by the MCEER team. The public health and environment reconnaissance team visited the Gulf Coast from October 17, 2005 to October 22, 2005. The team’s efforts extended from New Orleans to the parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain to the Louisiana-Texas border. The primary study areas were Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, Washington, Calcasieu, and Cameron parishes. The report provides information on the public health aspects of the site visit and reviews the environmental infrastructure observations.