A total of 117 deaths were reported on Red Cross mortality forms. The source of information for the mortality forms was a medical examiner/coroner for 94 (80.3%) cases and the family of the decedent for 10 (8.5%) cases (Table). Most deaths occurred in New York (53 [45.3%]) and New Jersey (34 [29.1%]); the other deaths occurred in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Maryland. The deaths occurred during October 28–November 29, 2012 (Figure 1). Approximately half of the deaths (60 [51.3%]) occurred on the first 2 days of the storm’s landfall, with a peak of 37 deaths on October 30, 2012.
Decedents ranged in age from 1 to 94 years (mean: 60 years, median: 65 years); 60.7% were male, and 53.8% were white. Of the 117 deaths, 67 (57.3%) were classified as directly related deaths, and 38 (32.5%) were indirectly related to the storm. Of the directly related deaths, the most common mechanism was drowning (40 [59.7%]), followed by trauma from being crushed, cut, or struck (19 [28.4%]). Poisoning was the most common indirectly related cause of death; of the 10 poisonings, nine were caused by carbon monoxide. Most directly related deaths occurred during the first few days of the storm, whereas indirectly related deaths continued from the day before the storm into the middle of November.
Comparing the 40 drowning deaths to all Sandy-related deaths, the age, sex, and race distributions of decedents were similar (Table). The majority of drowning deaths (29 [72.5%]) also occurred in the initial phase of the storm, during October 29–31. Twenty-one (52.5%) drowning deaths occurred in the decedent’s home, and 11 (27.5%) occurred outside; one person drowned in a flooded commercial building lobby, and another person drowned while intentionally swimming off a storm-affected beach. For six deaths, circumstances of the drowning were not available. The location of drowning deaths by state was significantly different (p<0.05) compared with all Sandy-related deaths. The majority of drowning deaths (32 [80.0%]) occurred in New York, whereas deaths in New York accounted for only 27.3% of nondrowning deaths. Twenty decedents drowned in flooded homes in New York, and home addresses for 18 (90.0%) of them were located in Evacuation Zone A (Figure 2); the other two decedents’ homes were in or near areas of flooding and near Evacuation Zone A. Notes written by Red Cross volunteers on these 20 deaths captured decedents’ reasons for not evacuating, such as “afraid of looters,” “thought Hurricane Irene was mild,” and “unable to leave because did not have transportation.”
And while we’re on the topic of nasty weather…