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Weathering the Storm: The Impact of Hurricanes on Physical and Mental Health


The authors briefly review the deaths, injuries, and diseases attributed to hurricanes that made landfall in the United States prior to Hurricane Katrina; recent hurricane evacuation studies and their potential for reducing death, injury, and disease; information available to date about mortality, injury, and disease attributed to Hurricane Katrina; and psychological distress attributable to hurricanes. Drowning in salt water caused by storm surges has been reduced over the past thirty years, while deaths caused by fresh water (inland) flooding and wind have remained steady. Well-planned evacuations of coastal areas can reduce death and injury associated with hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina provides an example of what happens when evacuation is not handled appropriately. Preliminary data indicate that vulnerable elderly people were substantially overrepresented among the dead and that evacuees represent a population potentially predisposed to a high level of psychological distress, exacerbated by severe disaster exposure, lack of economic and social resources, and an inadequate government response.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Bourque, Linda B., Judith M. Siegel, Megumi Kano, and Michelle M. Wood. 2006. "Weathering the Storm: The Impact of Hurricanes on Physical and Mental Health." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (January): 129-151. http://www.jstor.org/stable/info/25097785

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