Lest We Forget: Where Have All The MISSING Gone?
NEW ORLEANS (August 29, 2008) -- The final death toll from Hurricane Katrina may forever remain
unclear, because the trauma of the storm caused many people fatal medical conditions, because so many
hurricane victims are still missing, and also because official government and law enforcement counts
often have not included many who died after Katrina.
In some parts of America, Katrina may seem like a distant memory or only a tragic footnote in history, yet
Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans will never be forgotten by the people of New Orleans
and the Gulf Coast.
Almost 1900 people are dead or missing from Hurricane Katrina, and all the victims were not in or from
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast
"Some people want to put Hurricane Katrina behind them...", began the veteran college
professor John Mutter, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. He
and his colleagues have been working since Katrina to assemble as complete a list of
the missing and dead as possible for their "Katrinalist" project.
The goal is to get a full accounting of the victims and as accurate a picture as possible
of the scope of fatalities, helping to better understand how natural disasters like
Hurricane Katrina affect communities, and find ways to save more lives in the future.
In an act of remembrance, the project includes a comprehensive online Katrinalist database available to the
public of all who died - directly or indirectly - from Katrina and its aftermath. The database is derived
from official sources (morgues, obituaries, state agencies), and other, more informal verifiable sources
Professor Mutter said that all those who died as a result of Katrina and its aftermath should also be
included in any count, in the belief that the storm may have actually contributed to some deaths by fatally
aggravating past medical conditions. "To save lives in the future we need to know who was at greatest
risk", Professor Mutter said.
The lessons learned and the cost of those lessons in human life is staggering. And the victims were not all
in or from New Orleans or the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Most of the 595 people who were still classified as missing a year after Hurricane Katrina were not from
In August, 2006, the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH) released a list of 135 people
considered missing in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Of those names, 115 were of New
Orleans area residents - New Orleans, 96; Jefferson Parish, 8; St. Bernard Parish, 6; Kenner, 1; Slidell, 4.
According to state sources, between 4-10 people may have been located since that list was released.
Also there were 13 other names of people from unknown municipalities, and one each from Franklinton,
New Iberia, Port Sulphur, Port Eads, Lake Charles, Empire, and Morgan City.
No official list from Louisiana has been released since that time..
Around that time, the DHH's Louisiana Family Assistance Center officially closed and transferred all the
missing persons cases to local law enforcement agencies in their respective jurisdictions. Whether these
agencies are actively seeking any leads on the whereabouts of those people is unknown at this time.
Several attempts to get information from the New Orleans Police Department have produced no results.
According to state sources, many of the missing may never be located. Also, some people do not wish to
be located, and may have deliberately disappeared.
All remains of the deceased from Hurricanes Katrina & Rita were transferred to the Orleans Parish
Coroner's office for DNA analysis and attempts at identification. Some may never be identified. According
to sources, only sporadic DNA analysis of those remains has been done since 2006 because due to budget
constraints that office is unable to adequately complete the monumental task it helped with in the early
stages of recovery.
In 2008, as Hurricane Gustav approached on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the City of New
Orleans held a public funeral and ceremony to inter remains of the unidentified inside of a new Katrina
Memorial on Canal Street.
RELATED: Houston Chronicle article by Lise Olsen "5 Years After Katrina Death Toll Still A Mystery"
Katrina Connection has not forgotten - nor will we ever forget - that there are still (and may always be)
people unaccounted for or unidentified in the years since the disaster. This website is committed to assist
with information as it becomes available, and ensuring that the issue never fades away from public
Professor John Mutter
"It's About More Than Just A Hurricane!"