State and local authorities in Louisiana are investigating after four nursing home residents have died and more than 800 others were found languishing inside of a mass shelter while riding out Hurricane Ida.
What are the details?
WWL-TV reported Thursday that residents from seven different area nursing homes had been transported to a large warehouse in Independence recently in preparation for the severe storm. The warehouse, however, was not suitable enough to provide care for the patients.
One nursing home worker who spoke with the outlet on the condition of anonymity said that inside the shelter, residents were forced to lie down on mattresses on the floor and were not given privacy from each other.
Video: Inside the warehouse where 4 nursing home residents died during Hurricane Ida youtu.be
He said that while there was enough food and water for all the residents, there simply weren't enough staff to provide care. The worker admitted he wasn't "surprised" that four people died.
"The conditions weren't good enough," he said. "I knew they weren't going to be safe for the residents and for the workers. We did the best we could with what we had."
At one point, water started pouring into the warehouse and the facility started flooding. Residents had to be moved from that area to another part of the warehouse, making the packed conditions even tighter.
"It was intense," the worker said. "We didn't have privacy to take care of them. We were changing everybody right by everybody and with the COVID there just wasn't enough space. It was awful."
After being tipped off about the poor living conditions at the shelter, Louisiana Department of Health investigators reportedly attempted to investigate but initially were turned away by staff at the door.
The department, along with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), has since taken control of the situation and moved all 843 of the residents to other nursing homes or special needs shelters, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Thursday.
The governor vowed an investigation into the owner of the seven nursing homes from which residents were evacuated. That individual is also the owner of the warehouse where they were moved.
4 nursing home residents die after Ida evacuation www.youtube.com
"At a minimum, when the situation degrades to the point that happened fairly quickly starting on Monday, then the owner, the homes, have an obligation to either move those residents themselves to a better facility or to ask for help," Edwards said. "He did neither."
"In fact, what he did was try to prevent the Department of Health from coming in and ascertaining the condition of those residents earlier in the week," he continued.
WWL reported that three of the deceased residents were as a 59-year-old woman from Jefferson parish, a 52-year-old man from New Orleans and a 77-year-old man from Terrebonne Parish, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.