Determining the population of areas affected by the hurricanes of 2005 has proven to be a difficult task. Now, to aid in this effort, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Louisiana Public Health Institute have teamed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct a rapid population estimate survey of six parishes in South Louisiana.

The parishes included in the survey are Jefferson, Plaquemines, Calcasieu, Cameron, Orleans and St. Bernard. The completion date for this initial survey is Sept. 2006.

In addition, as additional funds become available, the survey operations will be expanded to other parishes in South and Central Louisiana. The survey process will begin in Jefferson Parish on Thursday, June 15, as survey teams will visit neighborhoods and leave behind survey information packets on doors. The packets will include instructions, the survey form and a letter from Governor Kathleen Blanco and Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise that explains the project and its importance.

The effort is funded from a grant of $89,000 from the Centers for Disease Control Foundation and $200,000 from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

The goal of the project is to:

    * Provide critical population data to decision-makers to use in planning the allocation of public services and disaster recovery funds, and for the creation of evacuation and preparation guidelines for future disasters;
    * Provide timely and accurate estimates of the population in selected parishes, including information on age, race and gender;
    * Obtain information for health care and economic development planning, including information on health insurance, worker’s compensation, disability, household income, employment status, education and selected chronic disease conditions; and
    * Compare population estimates with modeled estimates developed from other sources in order to gauge the need for future household surveys.

Throughout the process, survey team members will wear t-shirts and carry official badges identifying them as members of the populations estimate survey team.