“Houstonians’ strength and resiliency have fueled massive strides toward recovery in the year since Hurricane Harvey’s flooding devastated much of our region,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Now, it’s important that every Houstonian and everyone in the Harvey impacted region participate in the Hurricane Harvey Registry. The information from this initiative will help public officials identify disparities to better prepare for future weather events.”
Hurricane Harvey exposed Houstonians to increased air pollution, water pollution and soil contamination, as well as mold inside their homes, among other threats. Modeled after the World Trade Center Health Registry for people exposed to fire and smoke in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, the Hurricane Harvey Registry is the first of its kind to collect information about environmental exposures and health effects after a major flooding event.
The registry’s survey asks questions about people’s health and location before, during and after the storm. Even those not affected by Harvey are asked to take the survey because their responses also can have a profound impact on the lives of many.
“We expect this work will inform public health planning in other regions across the nation as the country experiences storms that are more frequent and more powerful as a result of a changing climate,” said Elena Craft, PhD, senior director for climate and health at EDF.
“We need a wide range of information from as many people as possible in order to gain a better understanding of the storm’s physical and mental health impact,” said Stephen Williams, director of the Houston Health Department. “Ultimately, we hope to leverage the Registry to help inform and drive interventions that will have a direct and positive impact on the Houston region.”
More than 2,000 people have taken the survey to date. The registry is seeking to ensure a representative sample of the population in Harvey-affected areas. The more people who register, the greater impact the project can have.
“Our community was severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, executive director of Harris County Public Health.
“Though the roads have been cleared of water and people have returned to work, that doesn’t mean that their lives are not still affected. We need to know the long-term health impacts of the storm so that we can best address their health needs.”
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