NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A new federal report says the death toll from Hurricane Katrina was much lower than initially estimated, and the cost of damage was much higher.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), estimates of fatalities related to Katrina in 2005 and 2006 indicated that there were over 1800 deaths.
Since that time, additional information has become available, primarily from medical logs of more than 1,000 victims provided by state officials in Louisiana and Mississippi. The latest NOAA report indicates that Katrina was responsible for a total of 1,392 combined direct and indirect fatalities.
The new estimate includes 520 direct deaths (341 in Louisiana, 172 in Mississippi, 6 in Florida, and 1 in Georgia), and 565 indirect fatalities, the majority of which (318) were related to cardiovascular causes.
An additional 307 fatalities occurred where a specific cause of death was not identified therefore it is not known whether those deaths were direct or indirect.
Presumably, most of the deaths in Louisiana were caused by the widespread storm surge-induced flooding and its aftermath in the New Orleans area.
Louisiana health officials also report that persons of more than 60 years of age constituted the majority of the Katrina-related fatalities among its residents. The vast majority of the fatalities in Mississippi are believed to be directly caused by the storm surge in the three coastal counties.
In 2006, the National Hurricane Center estimated the economic cost of Hurricane Katrina was approximately $81.2 billion.
The most current damage estimate from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information indicates that Katrina was responsible for $125 billion in damage in the United States in 2005 dollars. Adjusting for inflation, the new figure equates to about $186.3 billion in 2022 dollars.
Katrina ranks among the deadliest hurricanes on record and remains the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.