New Project to account for Katrina dead

It’s good to seethis important work is now being done. As John Mutter, deputy director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University that is conducting the new project said it’s our moral responsibility…

How do we fully account for the people killed by Hurricane Katrina? Should we count the kidney dialysis patient who died when treatment was interrupted? What about a despondent evacuee who committed suicide months after leaving New Orleans? Or the suspected looter shot in the street?

More importantly, what happens to our understanding of the storm’s impact on society if these and other uncounted are added to the list of those who drowned?

These are the questions John Mutter, deputy director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, hopes to answer through a new project that seeks to compile an online list of all Gulf Coast residents who died as a result of direct and indirect effects of the storm, and as a result of the victims’ social standing or decisions made by policy makers.

The list is now freely available on the Internet.


Mutter and research assistant Amatullah R’id compiled their list by reviewing obituaries and coroners’ lists. They followed up with calls to family members, churches, and social service organizations to build a more comprehensive picture of each victim.

Mutter and R’id are reaching out to the affected communities, asking for friends and relatives to contribute information and revise existing information about those who died in New Orleans or elsewhere.

“More than one year later, the human and economic consequences of Katrina — including the causes and circumstances of deaths attributable to this catastrophic event — have still not been fully clarified,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “This work will reveal critical information about the true human toll of a natural megadisaster, providing closure to families and critical insight to disaster response planners.”

To date, Mutter and R’id have collected more than 1,250 names, nearly 25 percent of which have yet to be accounted for officially.

2 thoughts on “New Project to account for Katrina dead

  1. This is all true, but it is unlikely to move most people. Anything that isn’t a hard number with associated cause and effect (and better, a clear intent) doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. Look at this study published in the Lancet, and the attention it’s (NOT) getting.
    Or, look at the our infant mortality rates and lowered life expectancy. If I said “our infant mortality rate is 2 per 1000 higher than most comparable countries (Canada, France, etc)”, that’s BORING, nobody cares. What gets people’s attention, is (begin math: 300,000,000 times 14births/1000 = 4,200,000 births, times 2/1000 is…) 8400 babies die every year because INSURANCE COMPANIES and other SPECIAL INTERESTS think their profits are more important. Understand, I’m not seeking perfection, merely a system that works as well as what they have in a bunch of other countries.

  2. I’ve always thought that there were many more (thousands, perhaps) fatalities than we learned about in the weeks following Katrina. I guess I was wrong, but I still can’t understand why Katrina isn’t a much bigger issue in the campaign.
    Where are the commercials of Lieberman and Bush eating cake in Sunny California while bodies floated through the 9th ward?

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