Proposed New Orleans Ordinance Aims for Safer Senior Living Facilities in Ida’s Aftermath

October 18, 2021

A new ordinance being proposed in New Orleans is designed to protect residents at apartment complexes for seniors during disasters like Hurricane Ida, which wiped out power to the city and stranded hundreds of people in sweltering apartment complexes for seniors.

The ordinance approved by the Community Development Committee would require a new license for apartment complexes which are specifically for residents older than 55 and are not already subject to a licensing requirement. There are about 75 of these types of complexes around the city, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.

The ordinance would require building operators to keep a list of residents who need accommodations such as supplemental oxygen or a wheelchair. The building operators would also have to keep personnel on site during a declared emergency and coordinate plans with the city during an emergency. The ordinance would not require generators for the buildings.

Council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer said that the window to evacuate is getting smaller and more people are going to have to shelter in place when a storm comes.

“Often that means our most vulnerable populations are at the highest and greatest risk,” she said, according to the newspaper.

The Category 4 Hurricane Ida caused a citywide blackout, leading to widespread problems at high-rise apartment buildings which are home to seniors. Without working elevators, many people who use wheelchairs couldn’t leave. People who relied on electricity to run their oxygen suffered.

According to the city’s coroner 10 people — all 65 or older — died in various locations across the city of possible heat-related reasons in Ida’s aftermath. The newspaper reported that seven of those deaths were in facilities for seniors.

The buildings are not nursing homes, which generally have more regulations and oversight to follow, especially during hurricanes.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from some senior buildings in New Orleans after the post-storm conditions inside became known. The city also conducted widespread inspections to assess conditions of senior facilities including those that were not evacuated.

Topics Senior Care

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