Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Couple found

The latest official body count from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is 1,090.

More are being found each week, as The Times-Picayune regularly reports:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Couple, 97 and 89, are found dead in their Gentilly home
Police think they died after storm

Television portrayed the victims of Katrina to be the historically poor and disenfranchised. But my armchair observation is that the storm hurt and killed mostly the elderly in our community.

These are people who are the least hardy to take on the challenges hurricanes bring. The stress of evacuation, the financial burdens and the deprivation of medical support can be fatal. And just as bad can be the after-effects, such as the physical exertion of trying to salvage belongings and repair homes, the stress of financial insecurity and the suffering from emotional losses.

You can almost understand why so many older Americans did not heed the call to evacuate.

And although the emergency response was phenomenal, the scale of this disaster was just too much. Thousands were rescued in the days after the hurricane passed, by truck, boat, bus, jet-ski and helicopter. Teams of National Guardsmen went through the city, going door-to-door, searching for anyone left behind, helping everyone they could, collecting the bodies of those they could not save. They spay-painted each building to mark their progress through the tens of thousands of destroyed homes and businesses.

As valiantly as they tried, they did not find everyone.

It is now down to the citizens to find the last of Katrina's victims. Family members, friends and contractors, returning to these sodden homes, enter to find the lost and the forgotten where they died. It's been more than three months since Hurricane Katrina rampaged through our city, but the pain of her attack remains.

I write about this not to gross anyone out, but to again try to illustrate the magnitude of this catastrophe.

One thousand ninety dead so far. Of the ones identified, 3 out of 4 came from New Orleans. Less than half of the bodies have been released to families.

More to come.

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