Researchers conducting a Hurricane Harvey study are asking residents in the Greater Houston area to complete a short survey by Dec. 21 to collect information on Harvey’s effects on individuals’ health and livelihood for the entity’s first public health report.
The Hurricane Harvey Registry, a joint venture of Rice University, Environmental Defense Fund and health departments in the Harvey-affected region, is modeled after the World Trade Center Health Registry for New Yorkers exposed to fire and smoke on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a news release for the study.
All adults living in the Greater Houston area, regardless of whether they were affected by Harvey, are encouraged to take the survey. Data from the survey—which includes questions on health, housing and vehicle damage—will be used for the first in a series of public reports to be published early 2019, according to the news release.
The data will help researchers and public officials identify health trends and develop plans to reduce risk with future storms, project investigators said.
“This registry is important because it has the potential to uncover exposures and harmful risks that are simply unknown at this point in time,” Marie Miranda, Rice University provost and the project’s lead investigator, said in an email. “Once we show the impact of this registry on driving intervention for local health departments, we hope that other cities and counties across the nation will deploy similar tools in the immediate aftermath of storms so that residents get the help they need at a quicker pace.”
The August storm flooded nearly a dozen toxic Superfund sites—or land that has been contaminated by hazardous waste—in Houston, which exposed residents to harmful toxins and materials, Miranda said. Once the impact of such instances are measured, the registry data can be used to better inform existing strategies related to hurricane preparedness.
“[For example], when we identify clusters of certain conditions [including upper respiratory symptoms, anxiety and depression], Harris County would be able to deploy mobile health units to provide direct, tailored interventions,” Miranda said.
As of Nov. 1, more than 2,000 people had taken the survey, and the more survey participants there are, the greater the project’s impact will be, the press release stated.
To take the survey, click here.