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At Least 4 Nursing Home Residents Have Died After Hurricane Ida Evacuation

Flood damaged buildings and boats in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, on Wednesday in Lafitte, La.
John Locher
Flood damaged buildings and boats in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, on Wednesday in Lafitte, La.

Updated September 2, 2021 at 7:27 PM ET

Four nursing home patients are dead and 14 hospitalized after they were evacuated to a facility in Independence, La., ahead of Hurricane Ida.

Three of the deaths are confirmed to be storm-related, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Now, the department is responding to complaints of unsafe conditions at the site, named Waterbury. It's unclear what the facility's intended use is, but it is not a registered nursing home.

Two days before Ida hit, hundreds of patients at seven nursing homes — owned by a man named Bob Dean and limited liability companies — were evacuated to Waterbury.

As the storm made landfall over the weekend, conditions deteriorated, according to the health department, which received unconfirmed reports of patients crowded head-to-foot on mattresses laid on the floor, water entering the building, generator issues, and a strong odor of feces and urine.

A surveyor for health standards was ejected from the Waterbury facility on Tuesday and was unable to complete a full inspection, according to Aly Neel, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Health.

But she says the the surveyor saw enough to determine that conditions were not good, which triggered a full evacuation and investigation beginning Thursday morning.

Now, the National Guard is working to move 843 remaining patients to safety.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liz Baker
Liz Baker is a producer on NPR's National Desk based in Los Angeles, and is often on the road producing coverage of domestic breaking news stories.