Harvard Researchers Find Mass. Hospitals Vulnerable To Potential Hurricanes

transformer on a pole and a tree laying across power lines over a road after Hurricane moved across

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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - As Florida continues to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a new study from Harvard climate researchers finds Massachusetts hospitals are among the nation's most vulnerable to hurricane flooding.

Boston was ranked just third, behind Miami and New York on the list of 78 urban areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, found to be most at risk. Researchers looked at a number of factors including hurricane strength, sea level rise, predicted storm surges, and hospital locations.

The study found even a relatively weak Category 2 hurricane could impact the ability for residents to safely get to and from major medical centers. This could severely impact their ability to respond to storm related injuries and threatening critical ongoing care.

"Interruptions in care after hurricanes prevent patients from obtaining necessary medical care. Lack of access to dialysis centers, substance use treatment facilities, pharmacies, ambulatory care centers, and reliable electricity in patients' homes leads to higher rates of complications and exacerbations of chronic medical problems such as diabetes, asthma, and chronic kidney disease." The researchers wrote. "These impacts from care disruption have been shown to persist well after the storm has passed."

Across the U.S. the research found that at least half the hospitals in 25 of the 78 areas assessed were at risk of flooding from a Category 2 hurricane. It also found at least half the roads within a mile of hospitals in 18 different metropolitan areas could flood.

And while hurricanes have been traditionally less likely to pack a punch in New England, climate change is now increasing the risk of hurricanes in the region. What's more climate models predict hurricanes will become stronger, bring greater amounts of water, and be more likely to make landfall further north.

WBZ's Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports

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