A Louisiana nurse revealed the horrifying details surrounding the hundreds of nursing home evacuees who were housed in a warehouse before Hurricane Ida made landfall.
At least seven of the nursing home patients have died after being relocated to a warehouse facility in Tangipahoa Parish. The warehouse housed more than 800 residents from seven different facilities across the state as Hurricane Ida tore through the Gulf Coast.
“They were hungry, they were thirsty. They were in pain. It was just very sad,” Natalie Henderson, who was at the warehouse with the patients, told CBS News.
Images from inside the warehouse show residents living in wretched conditions, packed closely on mattresses. Henderson said some patients were forced to use small buckets as toilets.
“The whole place is reeking of urine and feces ….,” Henderson said. “It was horrifying and the smell was so bad.”
Henderson told the outlet that supervisors would get upset if staff members mentioned the unsafe conditions and that she was ultimately terminated from her job after speaking out.
“They try to paint me as a bad person trying to look out for them who can’t speak up for themselves,” Henderson said.
The owner of the nursing homes, Bob Dean, defended the warehouse storm shelter.
“We only had five deaths within the six days. With normally, with 850 people, you’ll have a couple a day. So we did really good on taking care of people,” Dean reportedly said.
Louisiana officials have launched an investigation into Dean after reports of the conditions at the facility were revealed.
“To pack that many people into one warehouse is just unthinkable. And how can this happen after we’ve gone through Katrina, and had those deaths in the nursing homes in, and set things in place, so this would never happen again?” Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told CNN. “It’s just unthinkable, it’s embarrassing.”
In addition to the warehouse deaths, rescue workers found at least five other people dead at multiple senior apartment complexes. Ten of those facilities, the New Orleans Health Department said, were deemed unfit for occupancy and evacuated.