NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A proposed new ordinance in New Orleans is designed to protect residents of senior apartment complexes during disasters such as Hurricane Ida, which wiped out the city and stranded hundreds of people in stuffy apartment complexes for the elderly.
The ordinance approved by the Community Development Committee on Tuesday would require a new license for apartment complexes that are specifically intended for residents over the age of 55 and are not already subject to a licensing requirement. There are about 75 of these types of resorts in the city, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.
The ordinance would require building operators to keep a list of residents who require accommodation such as supplemental oxygen or a wheelchair. Building operators should also keep staff on site during a declared emergency and coordinate plans with the city in the event of an emergency. The ordinance would not require generators for the buildings.
Council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer said the window to escape was narrowing and more people would have to take shelter in place in the event of a storm.
âOften this means our most vulnerable populations are most at risk,â she said, according to the newspaper.
Category 4 Hurricane Ida caused a power outage throughout the city, causing widespread problems in high-rise apartment buildings that house the elderly. Without working elevators, many people in wheelchairs would not be able to leave. People who depended on electricity to run their oxygen suffered.
According to the city coroner, 10 people – all 65 years of age or older – have died in various locations around the city due to possible heat-related reasons as a result of Ida. The newspaper reported that seven of the deaths occurred in facilities for the elderly.
The buildings are not nursing homes, which usually have more regulations and oversight to follow, especially during hurricanes.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from some upper buildings in New Orleans after post-storm conditions inside became known. The city has also conducted widespread inspections to assess the condition of facilities for the elderly, including those that have not been evacuated.