Chicago responds to mass evacuation caused by Hurricane Katrina
The Fosco Park Hurricane Victim Welcome and Relief Center (hereafter “the center”)—the focus of our study—was used primarily by evacuees arriving on their own. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) was charged with providing medical and mental health care at the center.

The center opened on September 6, 2005. It was open 24 hours a day until September 16 and then operated under reduced hours until it closed on September 23. The center served 5373 Gulf Coast evacuees, including 919 in the medical unit and 241 in the mental health unit.

The center was designed as a “one-stop shop” for a variety of social and health services. Upon arrival, individuals were greeted by United Way volunteers and guided through the facility. After registering with the Red Cross, evacuees selected from services provided by an array of governmental and nonprofit agencies. Individuals in need of health care services were escorted to a medical or mental health unit, both operated by CDPH.

Clinical staff members were physicians, nurse-practitioners, registered nurses, and medical students. Nonclinical staff members were administrators, support staff, and public health professionals.
Medical students who staffed the triage unit during the first week received training from the Red Cross specific to Hurricane Katrina immediately before they reported.
  • Cross-sector staff deployments
  • Other
  • Nurse Practitioners*
  • Nurses - Registered
  • Physicians - Emergency
  • Physicians - Intensive Care
  • Physicians - Primary/Family
  • Physicians - Specialists
  • Public Health Workers
  • Students
Hurricane Katrina made landfall near the Mississippi–Louisiana border on August 29, 2005, devastating the region and forcing more than 800 000 Gulf Coast residents to evacuate.
  • Community Health Services
  • Primary Health Care
  • Urban/Suburban
Chicago's distance from the site of the disaster provided additional time to establish the incident command structure and to prepare the response
The process of staffing the emergency response team was inefficient and required lengthy security clearances. The utility of the Medical Reserve Corps system was hindered because the database had not been updated recently
Informal Strategy
Broz, D., Levin, E. C., Mucha, A. P., Pelzel, D., Wong, W., Persky, V. W., & Hershow, R. C. (2009). Lessons learned from Chicago's emergency response to mass evacuations caused by Hurricane Katrina. American journal of public health, 99(8), 1496–1504.
Dita Broz, PhD, MPH
Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
United States
Published Literature

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