With a unique mission, Louisiana Family Assistance Center has critical historical data on the missing and deceased victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Now, LFAC’s technical section has compiled various levels of the data in order to give researchers and members of the public a series of maps of the entire region showing the missing, the found and the confirmed deceased by last known location as well as the locations of recovered remains. They have worked over the past month to verify and compile the location data to create the maps, which have just gone live on their website.
The website is: www.familyassist.us. To access GIS (geographic information systems) maps, click the “GIS Maps” button. To access the interactive maps, click the “Interactive Maps” button. To see the list of 140 individuals who remain on the official missing list, click on the red “The Missing” button, where visitors can use a hot link to give information on any missing individual that they may know.
“We believe that these maps will be especially meaningful to researchers,” said LFAC Communications and IT Director Bruce Norquist. “It graphically shows the patterns over the entire region, though we believe most visitors will be interested in the New Orleans population center. Of particular note will be that this very visually shows that the Lower 9th Ward was the hardest hit from the perspective of victims and the missing, but also shows that other areas were hit quite hard as well and that might not be expected.”
Norquist said the maps he feels will be most interesting for those who visit the GIS section will be the ones that show the entire New Orleans area with the water depth from the flooding and storm surges. A visitor can choose to view these maps showing the four categories: the missing (those individuals who remain on the official missing list); found alive (those who were on the missing list but have been located by LFAC searchers); remains recovered and confirmed victims. The interactive maps are layered so that visitors can view any combination of three categories: missing, found alive and deceased. There is also a map showing the categories by ZIP code.
Visitors can zoom in on the maps to look at areas of special interest to them. However, the privacy of all individuals in the LFAC files is paramount; therefore, no identifying information such as names or addresses will be found on maps. Similarly, any remains with invalid location information are not listed on the maps.
“This visual representation will probably make it more real and more understandable to people in a way that written reports or tables cannot. For instance, when you look at the maps, you will notice that a large portion of the missing and the victims are in the areas where there was 10-20 feet of standing water,” Norquist said. “That makes sense. But you’ll also see quite clearly that reports of the missing spread out across the entire city. Even some of those who remain missing or are confirmed victims are in areas that were not as heavily flooded.”
In addition to the new maps, LFAC’s technical staff continue to update and add statistical tables on the website. These can be accessed by clicking the link for “Deceased Reports” and “Missing Reports.” The new data shows victim information by race, age and parish done in charts for ease in visualizing the information, according to LFAC’s statistical analyst Andrew Perez.
Louisiana Family Assistance Center is the national collection point for information on separated family members or those who may have perished from Louisiana during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The list is posted on their website at www.familyassist.us. A significant number of those reported missing by loved ones or friends never considered themselves missing. To assist the Center in locating anyone on the missing list, please call 1-866-326-9393.