September 7, 2023

Helena Moreno

Councilmember Moreno Prioritizes Urban Heat Analysis to Combat Rising Heat-Related Health and Safety Risks

Councilmember Moreno Prioritizes Urban Heat Analysis to Combat Rising Heat-Related Health and Safety Risks

NEW ORLEANS - Today, Councilmember Helena Moreno announced the allocation of $300,000 to prioritize a first-of-its-kind urban heat analysis in partnership with the City’s Resilience and Sustainability Office and the City Department of Health.


Recent national data highlights that over 70 percent of New Orleanians live in what are considered “urban heat islands,” land where the built environment and other factors increase air temperatures by more than eight degrees compared to surrounding locations. This is the third highest proportion in the nation. The eight-degree difference is the highest among major US metros, giving New Orleans the ignominious title of “worst heat island effect in the US.”


“This summer’s unrelenting and record-smashing heat only served to illustrate further the need to address these life-threatening conditions with sound and comprehensive City policy,” said Councilmember Moreno. “Climate change isn’t coming; it’s here, and we need to step up to meet the challenge and protect people now and into a much warmer future. This money will fund a detailed analysis of opportunities to address heat island effects across our City and provide clear, actionable steps to protect lives and property.”


“The recent spikes in temperatures across urban areas pose not only a risk to the environment, but to the safety of our residents as well," said Councilmember Morrell. "For generations, New Orleanians have depended on afternoon rain to cool the city down during a hot summer day. But with temperatures rapidly rising (and no signs of slowing down), this is our new normal. The allocation of these funds will help create a roadmap for how the City can provide better care for its residents most impacted by the climate crisis.”


"The last three months have shown us another dangerous side of the climate crisis,” said Greg Nichols, Deputy Chief Resilience Officer. “Since June, New Orleans has seen 55 days with a heat advisory or excessive heat warning and these extreme temperatures have taken the lives of some of our city’s most vulnerable residents. We know that the hottest areas of the city are often less affluent and that we need to provide all residents with the infrastructure and resources to keep them cool. I'm happy to be working with our Council to create a cross-departmental heat analysis to identify immediate and long-term steps the City can take to protect our people from extreme heat."


“This summer made clear that extreme heat is a growing threat to the health and safety of New Orleanians,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of the New Orleans Health Department. “It is essential that the City have a solid assessment of the problem and a comprehensive strategy for mitigating extreme heat and the risks it poses. This allocation of funding is an important first step toward having a City-wide heat mitigation plan.”


“This summer we’ve seen the impacts of climate change as these nonstop heatwaves threaten the health of our residents and strain the reliability of infrastructure systems that we depend on,” said Austin Feldbaum, NOHSEP Hazard Mitigation Director. “This heat adaptation plan will help the City to develop short- and long-term solutions to combat extreme heat, which is a major component of both the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan and Climate Action Plan.”


Over the past 50 years, average summer temperatures have risen in New Orleans. Nighttime average temperatures have increased almost six degrees Fahrenheit during that period, while daytime average temperatures are up more than three degrees. Nearly 20 excessive heat warnings have been issued for New Orleans in 2023 – the previous record was five. 2023 will also go down in the record books as having the most days of 95+ degree temperatures, the most 80+ degree nights, and the most consecutive days with excessive heat warnings.


The Louisiana Department of Health reports that an average of 3,000 people are hospitalized yearly with heat-related illnesses. Annually, more than 100 people are hospitalized in New Orleans due to high-temperature exposure or hyperthermia. Outdoor workers, infants, pregnant women and older adults are at the highest risk.







Media Contact:

Andrew Tuozzolo

Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno


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