A majority of people killed by Hurricane Katrina were older residents unable or unwilling to evacuate in the rising floodwaters, according to a study of almost half the bodies recovered in Louisiana.
About 60 percent of the nearly 500 victims identified so far were age 61 or older, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported.
“The elderly were much more likely to be in hospitals and nursing homes as well as possibly homebound and not able to access transportation in order to evacuate from the storm,” said agency spokesman Bob Johannessen.
More than 215 bodies out of 1,048 recovered statewide were found in or around hospitals and nursing homes, according the state. Two nursing home operators have been charged with negligent homicide in 34 deaths at one facility, and others are under investigation.
A breakdown of the studied deaths by ZIP code shows large numbers were found in neighborhoods devastated by water rising from levee breaks, particularly in the lower Ninth Ward, a low-lying largely impoverished neighborhood of New Orleans, and the historic Gentilly neighborhood.
But people also died in affluent areas where residents had means to evacuate, the report shows. Between 21 and 30 bodies were found in Lakeview, while a ZIP code that includes parts of Uptown that didn’t flood had between 11 and 20 bodies.
Forty-two percent of the identified victims were black, 37 percent white and 3 percent Hispanic, the report said. The remaining 18 percent weren’t identified by race or ethnicity.
On Friday, officials said three more bodies had been recovered, but eight others were removed from the list because the deaths were not storm related.