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October 17, 2017

Mitigating the Mental and Physical Health Consequences of Hurricane Harvey

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Donald Soffer Clinical Research Center, Miami, Florida
  • 2School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2017;318(15):1437-1438. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.14618

The complexity of the disaster risk landscape and the exposure of large human populations to prolonged and potentially traumatizing events were on full display during Hurricane Harvey. During the 5 days of Hurricane Harvey, more than 33 trillion gallons of rain fell on Texas and Louisiana and set a continental US record for rainfall at 51.88 in (131.78 cm). Among 13 million persons directly affected by the storm, more than 22 000 were rescued from floodwaters, an estimated 32 000 displaced survivors were temporarily housed in shelters, and at least 450 000 will apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance.1 More than 100 000 homes were damaged and only 17% of the affected residents had flood insurance. Damage and recovery estimates are projected to exceed those incurred during Hurricane Katrina ($114.5 billion paid on an estimated $160 billion in damages). The usually circumspect National Weather Service tweeted, “This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”