Hurricane Katrina

Five Years After: America Remains Unprepared to Protect Children in Disasters

It's been five years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. What followed was the worst emergency response effort in U.S. history. Katrina revealed profound gaps in the disaster preparedness plans in the Gulf Coast region and nationwide, particularly with regards to children.

  • More than 160,000 kids in Louisiana and Mississippi were displaced after Katrina.
  • More than 5,000 children were reported missing after Hurricane's Katrina and Rita and the last child was not found until six months later.
  • About 50,000 Louisiana and Mississippi children missed school in the 2005-2006 school year and approximately 15,000 did not attend in the 2006-2007 school year.
  • More than a third of Louisiana children experienced clinically diagnosed depression, anxiety or another behavior disorder after the storm.

Hurricane Katrina showed the harm children and families face when kids are not accounted for in disaster planning. The sad fact remains that America is still unprepared to protect children should a disaster strike.

A new report from Save the Children's U.S. Programs revealed that 38 states and the District of Columbia have not enacted basic safeguards to protect kids in school or child care during disasters, like requiring licensed child care centers to have a plan to reunite children with their families and requiring schools to have a clear evacuation plan in place.

Save the Children is pushing for states to adopt four minimum standards to protect kids in disasters as well as federal passage of the Child Safety, Care and Education Continuity Act of 2010 (H.R. 5240/S. 2898), which would require states to follow many of the same standards.

Read the full report

Read more about our Domestic Emergency Response Program

Last Updated September 2010