The bodies of 45 people have been found in a flooded uptown hospital here, officials said Monday, sharply increasing the death toll from Hurricane Katrina and raising new questions about the breakdown of the evacuation system as the disaster unfolded.CNN, Friday, September 1:
Officials at the hospital, the Memorial Medical Center, said at least some of the victims died while waiting to be removed in the four days after the hurricane struck, with the electricity out and temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.
Steven L. Campanini, a spokesman for the hospital's owner, Tenet Healthcare, said the dead included patients who died awaiting evacuation as well as people who died before the hurricane struck and whose bodies were in the hospital morgue.
Mr. Campanini said the dead might have also included evacuees from other hospitals and the surrounding neighborhood who gathered at Memorial while waiting to evacuate the city.
The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday those New Orleans residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.The hurricane struck on Monday, August 29th. The levees broke in New Orleans that day. FEMA evacuated the first survivors on Wednesday. The National Guard arrived in the city on Friday.
Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands.
"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.
"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said.
"And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.
"So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."
Michael Brown resigned his post yesterday.