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.
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.