Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University Medical Center, Durham (Dr Weisler); Department of Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans (Drs Barbee and Townsend).
Hurricane Katrina was the most devastating natural disaster in US history. Large parts of New Orleans and nearby Louisiana parishes were destroyed. About 90 000 square miles of the Gulf Coast, an area roughly the size of Great Britain, was declared a federal disaster area. The often contaminated flood waters covering much of New Orleans for almost 2 months contained a mix of raw sewage, bacteria, millions of gallons of oil, heavy metals, pesticides, and toxic chemicals, raising health concerns for residents and cleanup workers.
Weisler RH, Barbee JG, Townsend MH. Mental Health and Recovery in the Gulf Coast After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. JAMA. 2006;296(5):585-588. doi:10.1001/jama.296.5.585