A new study of injuries due to Hurricane Sandy in New York City metropolitan area residents co-authored by Dr. Steven Stellman, University of Columbia Mailman School of Public Health professor of clinical epidemiology, looked at data on home evacuation, height of flooding in and extent of damage to the home, storm-related activities the enrollee may have participated in such as rescue, cleanup, and repair, and immediate health effects including injuries. Participants were enrollees in the World Trade Center Health Registry, a cohort study of 71,434 survivors of the 9/11 disaster in New York City and carried out at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In early 2013 the registry sent a specially designed questionnaire to 2,224 enrollees residing in official FEMA designated flood zones and to another 1,950 outside those areas. Home flooding was reported by 42 percent of those living in the inundation zones; 49 percent of persons who lived in those areas evacuated their homes, while 19 percent returned to homes that were damaged or destroyed. Sandy-related injuries were reported by 231 persons or 10 percent of flood zone residents, 71 percent of whom had multiple injuries, principally to the arm and hand, followed by back strain or sprain. Injury risk increased with depth of floodwater in the home and was greatest in those who attempted cleanup or repair of heavily damaged homes. The authors conclude that disaster response policies need to be cognizant of injury risks associated with cleanup efforts, especially in the early days and weeks afterwards when organized cleanup response is not fully in place. Read the study in the October 24 issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Study co-authors are graduates of the Mailman School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology: Dr. Carey Maslow, Ms. Amanda Moy, and Ms. Kimberly Caramanica. Ms. Moy and Ms. Caramanica are currently employees of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.