Harvard School of Public Health undertook a survey of evacuees in shelters in the Houston area in cooperation with The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- One-third (34%) of Katrina evacuees report that they were trapped in their homes and had to be rescued. Half (50%) of those who were trapped said they waited three or more days to be rescued.
- More than 1 in 10 (14%) Hurricane Katrina evacuees report a family member, neighbor or friend was killed by the storm or subsequent flooding, and more than half report that their home was destroyed (55%)
- Also, the survey found that 2 in 5 (40%) spent at least a day living outside on a street or overpass, and 13% report that some members of their immediate family are still missing.
- The survey also found that evacuees in Houston shelters face serious health challenges that will complicate relief and recovery efforts.
The survey had the following health-related findings:
- 52% report having no health insurance coverage at the time of the hurricane. Of those with coverage, 34% say it is through Medicaid and 16% through Medicare. Before the hurricane 66% of people evacuated to Houston shelters used hospital or clinics as their main source of care and of those, a majority (54%) used Charity Hospital of New Orleans, substantially more than the second most common care site (University Hospital of New Orleans, at 8%).
- 33% report experiencing health problems or injuries as a result of the hurricane and 78% of them are currently receiving care for their ailments.
- 41% report chronic health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and asthma.
- 43% say they are supposed to be taking prescription medications, and of those, 29% percent report having problems getting the prescription drugs they need.
- Of the 61% who did not evacuate before the storm, 38% said they were either physically unable to leave or had to care for someone who was physically unable to leave.
- 39% report that they did not get help from any government agency or voluntary agency during the flood and evacuation.