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Five dead across eight senior living facilities, city leaders promise future legislation

Flint Goodridge Apartments
Flint Goodridge Apartments(WVUE)
Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -After five people died across eight senior living facilities in the city, the city’s health department shut those facilities down saying the conditions were unfit, and evacuated the rest of the residents to state-sponsored shelters.

Now leaders promise future legislation to prevent deaths like this from ever happening again.

“Check on your neighbors, that’s what’s supposed to happen after a major hurricane, definitely hot and in need of items,” said Sabrina Carter.

Good samaritan, Sabrina Cater said it was clear to her the residents at the multi-storied Flint Goodridge Apartments needed help.

“They were sitting out in the back area over here socializing trying to keep cool… some of them I know are weak, their conditions aren’t that great anyways so to have them here for floors here at 70,80 in a wheelchair I don’t think this is acceptable at all,” said Carter.

Now finding only the leftover water bottles and ice buckets she brought to help them, she says she’s grateful the city shut it down and evacuated more than 300 residents from here and seven other senior living facilities to safer state-run shelters.

A total of five people died while waiting out the conditions in senior living facilities across the city, two of them at the Flint Goodridge apartments.

City councilman Jay Banks says after touring one of these facilities, the Flint Goodridge apartments here, it’s clear the conditions were not habitable.

“There were rooms the ceiling caved in that water had gotten into, but it certainly is nowhere you want your mom or your grandmother to want to be in that I can promise you,” said Banks.

Contrasting with a pre-storm plan where facilities collaborate with the city to evacuate residents, New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno says there is no post-storm protocol.

“So our team at the health department decided to send out some strike teams to several of the buildings that we were concerned about and when we got there some of them we found pretty stark conditions,” said Avegno.

The problem post-storm she says may have been exacerbated by lack of leadership at these apartments.

“I don’t think the staff presence was robust. I think most of these facilities don’t have plans like that can determine who will remain who will come back and what the standards would be for an extended disaster like this one,” said Avegno.

The coroner she says is investigating the five deaths as storm-related, though she says she can’t yet speak to whether these deaths were preventable.

“I think for facilities that receive funding to house vulnerable and elderly individuals if they’re receiving public money for that then there should be some accountability’s, I think those who support those efforts want to see our elders appropriately taken care of,” said Avegno.

Banks promises in the future, there will be legislation preventing this from happening again.

“I do know is whoever is responsible needs to be held accountable and we need to make sure we have systems in place to ensure this never happens again,” said Banks.

Banks says at those apartments, they found a generator was running but only supplying power to an office that was locked to residents.

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