For now the official Hurricane Katrina death toll stands at 1,697.Why count those deaths?
But Columbia University geophysicist and earth scientist John Mutter believes the number is "well in excess of 2,000.''
That's because Mutter isn't just counting people who drowned in Katrina's waters or were crushed because of the storm's powerful winds.
Mutter's count also would include the despondent evacuee who committed suicide, the suspected looter fatally shot, and the dialysis patient who died because the storm interrupted treatment.
"I think we understand the financial losses better than the human losses and I think that's outrageous," said Mutter, who is deputy director of The Earth Institute at Columbia. "We should measure tragedy in human terms not financial terms."We should also measure our rebuilding progress in terms of people, not finances. People, not buildings. People, not profit. People, not politics.
If not for people, why should we rebuild?