Displacement of the Underserved: Medical Needs of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees in West Virginia

On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. During the aftermath of the storm, hurricane victims were evacuated to over 1,000 evacuation centers in 27 states. Three-hundred and twenty-three evacuees from 220 households were provided housing, food, and medical care at an evacuation center in West Virginia. A needs assessment followed to identify current needs of the evacuees. One-hundred and sixty-four evacuees were interviewed. Twenty-five percent reported an acute illness, while 46% reported having at least one chronic medical condition. The greatest need reported was for dental care (57%), followed by eyeglasses (34%), dentures (28%), and medical services (25%). Two weeks after the hurricane, the basic needs of food, shelter, and hygiene were met. The assessment identified and led to a successful response regarding the ongoing need for durable medical equipment (dentures and eyeglasses), as well as dental care.