Heat is a hazard that we simply haven’t given sufficient attention to. All cities are in the early stages of understanding what an effective heat response looks like. — David Hondula, a professor at Arizona State University
Heat is a hazard that we simply haven’t given sufficient attention to. All cities are in the early stages of understanding what an effective heat response looks like. — David Hondula, a professor at Arizona State University
The Greatest Killer in New Orleans Wasn’t the Hurricane. It Was the Heat.
Only in recent days, as the last lights flickered back on in New Orleans, have officials here discovered the true toll of Hurricane Ida. Unlike in the Northeast, where many who perished were taken by floodwaters and tornadoes, heat has emerged as the greatest killer in New Orleans.

Of 14 deaths caused by the storm in the city, Mr. Joseph’s and nine others are believed to be tied to the heat. Experts say there are probably more. And friends of those who died have begun to ask whether the government or apartment landlords could have done more to protect older residents before they died, often alone, in stiflingly hot homes.

“Heat is a hazard that we simply haven’t given sufficient attention to,” said David Hondula, a professor at Arizona State University who studies the effects of sweltering temperatures. “All cities are in the early stages of understanding what an effective heat response looks like.”

In New Orleans, officials set up air-conditioned cooling centers across the city and distributed food, water and ice around town.

All 10 people whose deaths have been tied to the heat were in their 60s and 70s, and they died over four broiling days, the last of which was Sept. 5, a full week after the storm.

... This comes as heat waves are becoming more frequent, long-lasting and dangerous. The 2018 National Climate Assessment, a major scientific report by 13 federal agencies, notes that the number of hot days is increasing, and the frequency of heat waves in the United States jumped from an average of two per year in the 1960s to six per year by the 2010s.


People who die from the heat may not recognize their symptoms as life-threatening, and heat-related deaths can also occur suddenly, with little warning. The most frequent cause is cardiovascular failure, when the heart cannot pump blood fast enough. Less frequent are deaths from heat stroke, when a person’s internal temperature rises by several degrees and the body cannot cool off, causing organs like the brain, heart or kidneys to fail.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/15/us/new-orleans-hurricane-ida-heat.html