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Hurricane Sandy mortality in the Caribbean and continental North America

Michalis Diakakis (Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, School of Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Georgios Deligiannakis (Mineralogy – Geology Laboratory, Department of Natural Resources and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Katerina Katsetsiadou (Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, School of Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Efthymios Lekkas (Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, School of Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

Tropical storms pose a significant threat to population despite the noteworthy improvements in forecasting and emergency management. Following the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the continental North America (USA and Canada) and the Caribbean, the purpose of this paper is to examine the mortality caused by the hurricane, focussing on differences in human vulnerability between these two regions.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors developed a database of 233 deaths, consisting of variables that provided a description of the circumstances under which the fatal incidents occurred and demographic details of the victims.

Findings

Analysis of the database showed higher percentages of female and young victims in the Caribbean than in continental North America, where mortality increased progressively with age and the ratio of males to females was higher. The majority of deaths occurred outdoors especially during clean-up and in vehicle crashes related to the storm. Physical trauma and drowning were identified as the most common causes of death, followed by carbon monoxide poisoning, hypothermia and others, although substantially different percentages were recorded between the two regions. Overall, indirect deaths presented a higher percentage than direct ones. Among the latter, incidents caused by storm surge and tree falls showed the highest numbers. Power failure and car crashes were the most common cause of indirect incidents.

Originality/value

The paper provides a thorough analysis of the circumstances under which fatal incidents occurred. It identifies parameters that affected the vulnerability of human life to the storm and discusses the differences between the Caribbean and continental North America.

Keywords

Citation

Diakakis, M., Deligiannakis, G., Katsetsiadou, K. and Lekkas, E. (2015), "Hurricane Sandy mortality in the Caribbean and continental North America", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 132-148. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-05-2014-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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