Remember who suffers the most during a deadly hurricane: Black people.
Deadly Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday morning and moved off Florida’s East Coast by 11 a.m., but was still dumping record amounts of rain to bring “catastrophic flooding” to the region. Cuba remained in the dark after the storm knocked out its power grid and devastated some of the country’s most important tobacco farms when it hit the island’s western tip.
There is an extra element of fear for Black Americans during hurricane season. Even though hurricanes don’t specifically target Black communities, their lasting impact always seems to affect Black people the most.
President Biden declared a major disaster for the state and Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an update from the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee this morning. “You’re looking at a storm that’s changed the character of a significant part of our state, and this is going to require, not just the emergency response now, and the days or weeks ahead, I mean this is going to require years of effort, to be able to rebuild, to come back,” he said.
HURRICANE IAN LATEST: https://t.co/lx64W9MAMB— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 28, 2022
• Currently Cat 4 with 155 mph winds; 60 miles west of Naples, Florida
• Landfall most likely to happen between Venice Beach and Fort Myers
• Historic life-threatening storm surge of 12-16 feet possible in some coastal areas pic.twitter.com/YvYbODJmss
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spoke from the state Emergency Operations Center, fears for the worst and said the storm will have major impacts on the state.
Clearly, this is a very powerful major hurricane that’s going to have major impacts, both on impact in southwest Florida, but then as it continues to work through the state, said DeSantis. “It is going to have major, major impacts in terms of wind, in terms of rain, in terms of flooding, so this is going to be a nasty, nasty day — two days.”
When Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas in 2017, the southwest Houston neighborhood that suffered the worst flood damage was 49% nonwhite.
In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated southeast Louisiana, African American neighborhoods suffered the most damage. According to E&E News, four of the seven ZIP codes that suffered the costliest flood damage from Katrina were at least 75% Black.
As climate change intensifies, so will hurricanes which leaves minorities and low-income residents more vulnerable. These populations do not have the resources to sustain themselves after such a massive natural disaster. Many do not have the opportunity to pack their bags for another city and wait out the storm. They also don’t have the income flexibility to rebuild after a storm takes everything.
“Urban flooding is a growing source of significant economic loss, social disruption, and housing inequality,” Texas A&M University flood expert Sam Brody told E&E News.