Hurricane Katrina missing

Someone asked me to do a blog post on the people missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, since it’s been five years now since the disaster.

I didn’t even realize people were still missing from that. I knew that for a few weeks or months there were gobs of people missing, separated from their families, and the NCMEC etc were swamped trying to keep track of them all. But I had no idea that some have still not been found: like this guy, a priest named Arthur Ginart, last seen at his church, St. Nicholas of Myra, in Lake Catherine, Louisiana. He was offered a way out but he refused to leave the church. From the article:

In Louisiana, 135 are, like Ginart, still officially categorized as missing (the Mississippi number stands at just three). But who died where and when is still a mystery in many cases.

By contrast, nearly every victim is accounted for after the 2001 suicide attacks on the World Trade Center. Workers sifted through tons of wreckage for traces of human tissue and bone against which DNA samples — extracted from toothbrushes, combs, clothing — were compared.

Some of those same techniques were used in Katrina’s aftermath. But the two disasters were very different. While debris from the Twin Towers was largely confined to Lower Manhattan, Katrina’s havoc was spread across three states and over more than 500 miles of coastline.

I have heard it suggested that the authorities didn’t try hard enough to look for Katrina victims or identify the bodies due to racial or class prejudice, since most of the people from that area are black and poor. I don’t know enough about that to form an opinion on it. But the article does have a point about the other differences between Katrina and WTC.

The Houston Chronicle has also done an article on the legacy of Katrina and the fact that no one even knows how many lives the storm claimed. According to them, no one even knows how many are still missing: “[T]he list of 135 missing persons released by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals in August 2006 has never been updated.” The article mentions Roy Clark, a presumed Katrina victim who’s listed on the NCMEC — the only one thus profiled, as far as I know.

I don’t know whether Katrina missings fall under the Charley Project’s scope or not. I’ve done individual people or very small groups missing as a result of disasters, so I suppose Katrina missing people ought to qualify too. I just don’t have any listed.

3 thoughts on “Hurricane Katrina missing

  1. Justin September 1, 2010 / 1:00 am

    I understand that the near collapse of the National Center for Missing Adults was due to all the overtime work they did on finding the missing from Katrina with the understanding that the U.S. Government would pick up the tab later.

    They didn’t, and later cut much of their funding.

    They just barely survived and eventually merged with another missing persons organization.

    • Meaghan September 1, 2010 / 1:02 am

      No good deed goes unpunished.

  2. Princess Shantae September 1, 2010 / 8:44 pm

    And the road to ruin is paved with good intentions.
    Meaghan, I think you do have one pair of Katrina missing people on your site, or at least you did once. Their last name was Butler and they were an older African American couple who ran some kind of business outside New Orleans. If I remember the lady’s first name was something funny like Arthurita or Arthurina, and it wasn’t clear if they were hurt during the storm or had left ahead of it or afterwards.

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