Currently spoke with Rosemary Westwood, the public health reporter for Louisiana Public Radio, who recently reported on the heat deaths after Hurricane Ida that resulted from power outages and a lack of AC.
The majority of people who died from heat after the storm were elderly, 5 of them were living in residences for the elderly and people with disabilities and were left without electricity, staff, AC, or working elevators.
“There were seniors residences in New Orleans that were basically abandoned by staff,” said Westwood. “People who are vulnerable cannot live in the summer without air conditioning or without electricity to run their oxygen machines, without access to an elevator to get down to do what they might need to do, or to even just try to cool off.”
Westwood said that there are people in New Orleans working to ensure that those most vulnerable, like the elderly, who were left behind after Ida, are not forgotten next time. However, she says that as disasters and extreme weather become more frequent and intense due to climate change it is unsure if these precautions will be enough.
“We’re letting them kind of bear the first and I think really intense effects of climate change with these storms. And then, treating it as a personal problem for them,” said Westwood. — Abbie Veitch