NEW ORLEANS — Since Hurricane Ida hit, 12 senior citizens in nursing homes and senior living facilities have died. Five of the victims were found this weekend when health officials with the City of New Orleans were checking out senior living facilities.
Merna Smith was a resident of St. John Berchman's Manor.
"I'm an oxygen patient for one and it feels like there's no one, there's no one but us," she said.
That senior living facility is her home, but since Ida hit, it's felt like anything but.
"We haven’t had anything. They just started sending water and Gatorade, but we haven’t had none of that since the storm," Smith said.
St. John Berchman's Manor is one of 10 senior living facilities that the City of New Orleans ordered to close this weekend.
Health officials were making wellness checks, but found some senior apartments without air conditioning or adequate medical attention for residents. Inside the apartments, the city found five residents dead. Two were at Flint Goodridge Apartments.
"They were elderly and they were upstairs with no attention, no care, no water, no one was bringing them ice, anything. They were just upstairs to fend for themselves. So, heat will definitely kill you," a woman whose sister was a resident at Flint Goodridge said.
"They left them to fend for themselves, elderly people. I am very upset," she said.
The woman went by to get her sister's belongings, but was only given her medications.
"She needs her wheelchair, her shower chair, she needs her clothing, she doesn’t have a TV at home she needs a TV," she said.
"When I tell you you could bake in there, it was that hot, it was miserable," Councilman Jay Banks said.
Banks walked through the facility Saturday.
"There were rooms that the ceilings had caved in where water had gotten into," he said. "There was one where clearly the lady couldn’t sleep because the ceiling tiles had fallen wet so the bed was soaking wet."
This all unfolded days after more than 800 nursing home residents who evacuated to a warehouse in Independence had to relocate. The warehouse was described as overcrowded, hot and unsanitary. Seven residents died in connection. All seven nursing homes involved were shut down.
"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," Banks said.
Not all of the residents evacuated to a shelter, some had to be taken to a hospital. Others are staying with family or friends.
According to the City, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, the New Orleans Fire Department and the Regional Transit Authority assisted in the evacuation of the following facilities in New Orleans this weekend:
- Peace Lake Towers in New Orleans East
- St. John Berchman in Gentilly
- St. Martin Manor in the Warehouse District
- Delille Inn in New Orleans East
- Nazareth Inn 1 & 2 in New Orleans East (one fatality)
- Flint Goodridge Apartments in Milan (two fatalities)
- Christopher Inn in the Marigny (one fatality)
- Annunciation Inn in the Seventh Ward (one fatality)
- Renaissance Place in Algiers
The seven nursing homes involved in the Independence warehouse evacuation include:
- River Palms Nursing and Rehab in Orleans Parish
- South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab in Lafourche Parish
- Maison Orleans Healthcare Center in Orleans Parish
- Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home in Jefferson Parish
- West Jefferson Health Care Center in Jefferson Parish
- Maison DeVille Nursing Home in Terrebonne Parish
- Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey in Jefferson Parish
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is launching "Connect," a way for families to locate loved ones who evacuated from Hurricane Idea to a state shelter.
The number to call is 225-342-2727. Alternatively, families can fill out a form online to reach out to loved ones who may be in state congregate shelters. That form is found at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/form/dcfs-connect.more than 800 nursing home residents who evacuated to a warehouse in Independence had to relocate.