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Environmental Public Health Impacts of Disasters: Hurricane Katrina - Workshop Summary
Move people away from the hazard. This would imply separation by means of a physical barrier, such as tidal gates or levees, and building homes and other structures on stilts. However, there is a need to stop building in vulnerable places.
Modify surfaces and basic structures. During the storm dramatic pictures were shown of flying debris that could cause injury to residents. Although this is of concern to the public health community, the solution will require the help of other disciplines to build more resilient materials.
Provide first aid in emergency response. The first response needs to be better prepared. There were documented critical gaps in the evacuation of people in hospitals and in providing for the needs of individuals in acute care and rehabilitation centers.
These six points are areas for further research as well as action as the public health community prepares for future disasters. This is important because across the globe there are approximately 6 billion people, and a high percentage of them live in coastal areas very similar to the Gulf Coast. Combined with the individuals who reside in highly earthquake-vulnerable regions, what we face, as public health and other professionals across the disciplines, are challenges to ensuring people’s protection and well-being.