Operation Child-ID: reunifying children with their legal guardians after Hurricane Katrina

Disasters. 2007 Sep;31(3):277-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2007.01009.x.


Children constitute a vulnerable population and special considerations are necessary in order to provide proper care for them during disasters. After disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the rapid identification and protection of separated children and their reunification with legal guardians is necessary in order to minimise secondary injuries (i.e. physical and sexual abuse, neglect and abduction). At Camp Gruber, an Oklahoma shelter for Louisianans displaced by Hurricane Katrina, a survey tool was used to identify children separated from their guardians. Of the 254 children at the camp, 36 (14.2 per cent) were separated from their legal guardians. Answering 'no' to the question of whether the accompanying adult was the guardian of the child prior to Hurricane Katrina was a strong predictor (27.8 per cent versus 3.2 per cent) of being listed as 'missing' by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). All the children at Camp Gruber who were listed as 'missing' by the NCMEC were subsequently reunited with their guardians.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Custody*
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Disasters*
  • Humans
  • Legal Guardians / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Louisiana / ethnology
  • Oklahoma
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Patient Identification Systems
  • Records / classification
  • Records / standards*
  • Refugees / classification*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires