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McGill experts offer insight on Katrina aftermath

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September 7, 2005

Source: McGill University:

McGill experts offer insight on Katrina aftermath

Professors available for comment on the implications of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina is the largest natural disaster to strike the United States in more than a century. As the search for survivors continues, the task of understanding the scope of this crisis has just begun. McGill experts can comment on many of the areas sure to feel the effects of the storm.

Economic Impact in the U.S. and Canada: The Gulf Coast supplies almost one-quarter of the United States' oil supplies. With 20 oil rigs destroyed in the Gulf of Mexico and the price of gasoline soaring across the continent, the effects on the economy are widespread. Canadian imports from Louisiana and Mississippi exceed US$1.6 billion every year and exports top US$1.2 billion. In those states, 116,000 jobs are directly tied to cross-border trade.

Jan Jorgensen is a professor at the Faculty of Management and an expert in rebuilding economies after a natural disaster. Contact: email or 514-398-4027.

Hassan Benchekroun is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics. He is the author of several articles on international economics and natural resources, and studies trade and environmental economics. Contact: email or 514-398-2776.

Environmental Catastrophe: Much of the water flooding New Orleans is already contaminated. It's too soon to tell if the region's massive chemical industry has been affected. And few have begun to consider the impact of this disaster on the wildlife that inhabits the endangered wetlands that serve as a buffer between the city and the Gulf of Mexico.

Garry Peterson is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Geography and McGill School of Environment. Peterson is a member of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an international project that assesses the implications of ecosystem change for human well-being. Contact: email.

Public Health Crisis: With 80 percent of the city of New Orleans submerged under water and most hospitals left abandoned with no electricity, officials are scrambling to get medical supplies, personnel and hospital beds to the region. The security of the food supply, sanitation and the outbreak of diseases like cholera and typhoid are top concerns.

Terence Spithill is the director of the Institute of Parasitology and a Canada Research Chair in Immunoparasitology. His research is international in scope and has included work on using vaccines and drugs to control parasite infection and transmission. Contact: email or 514-398-8668.

Gaétan Faubert is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is a specialist in waterborne diseases and serves at the Institute of Parasitology at McGill's Macdonald Campus. Contact: email or 514-398-7724.

Tom Kosatsky is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and serves in the Direction de la santé publique (Montreal Public Health Department). He studies the health consequences of exposure to chemical agents in the environment. He has been consultant to the World Health Organization in the assessment of the health impact of climate change, specifically in the area of public health responses to extreme weather. Contact: email or 514-528-2400 ext.3223.

Rebuilding the Infrastructure: It will take years to rebuild the Gulf Coast. With several of the interstate connections leading to New Orleans in ruins, a crippled telecommunications system and power outages likely for months, engineers and urban planners have a monumental task on their hands.

Denis Mitchell is the chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics and specializes in the design of concrete structures in disturbed regions. Professor Mitchell is also the chair and a member of numerous national and international committees on building and design codes. Contact: email or 514-398-8209.

Luc Chouinard is an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics. His research interests encompass spatial modelling of environmental data (including hurricanes), estimation of natural hazards, and the inspection and evaluation of aging infrastructures and the optimal allocation of repair funds. Contact: email or 514-398-6446.

Ronald Gehr is an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and is a specialist in environmental engineering. He has served as a professional engineer working with wastewater disinfection and reuse and teaches in these areas. Contact: email or 514-398-6861.

Psychological Implications: The victims of a traumatic event like this one can have a wide variety of responses, ranging from grief and depression to physical symptoms like nausea and insomnia, which can last for months. And with looting and reports of violence on the rise, other mental health consequences are sure to be felt by those affected.

Michael Meaney is the associate director of research at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre and holds appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery. He specializes in areas related to stress and has written over 180 publications and made presentations around the world. Contact: email.

Gilbert Pinard is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and is a specialist in depression and anxiety disorders. Contact: email or 514-398-5829.

Donald Taylor is a Psychology professor and his area of expertise is studying intergroup relations. His current research focuses on refugees in Canada and racial groups in urban centres in Canada and the United States. Contact: email or 514-398-6104.

Blaine Ditto is a Psychology professor and his research interests concern stress-related disorders. Contact: email or 514-398-6097.

Richard Hink
Communications associate
McGill University Relations Office
Rita Kotzia
Communications officer
McGill University Relations Office



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