Drowning most common fatality during Superstorm Sandy

The leading cause of death during Superstorm Sandy last fall was drowning, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, which analyzed 117 storm-related deaths, comes amid a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warning that this year's hurricane season stands a good chance of being more active than usual. In its annual Atlantic hurricane season outlook, NOAA forecasters said Thursday that there was a 70% likelihood of three to six major hurricanes occurring this year. The seasonal average for such major storms is three.

In its mortality analysis, the CDC examined deaths related to Sandy that had been documented by the American Red Cross. (Media reports have put the death toll at about 131.) Of those 117 deaths, more than half -- 67 -- were the direct result of Sandy, which began as a Category 3 hurricane and made landfall as an intense post-tropical cyclone on Oct. 29.

Of those deaths caused directly by the storm, 40 involved drowning, while 19 involved trauma from being crushed, cut or struck. Roughly half of those who drowned died in their own homes, in or near Evacuation Zone A in New York. The report noted that the remaining drowning deaths occurred outside the home and that one involved a person who was intentionally swimming off a storm-affected beach.

"Hurricane-related drowning deaths in evacuation zones are preventable," the report stated. "A successful evacuation depends on officials providing timely messaging to all affected persons, on persons receiving messages and on persons having the capacity, resources and willingness to evacuate."

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An analysis of American Red Cross mortality data shows that of the 117 deaths caused by Hurricane Sandy, drowning was the leading cause of fatality, and that the majority of those drownings occurred within people's homes, according to a CDC report released Thursday.


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