From Katrina, to Maria, to Dorian, hurricanes have wreaked havoc on defenseless communities for decades, causing billions of dollars in physical damage alone. This financial condition of disparity does not take into consideration the emotional trauma or displacement on communities, specifically communities of color.
Systematically disadvantaged upon birth, people of color in the U.S face constant disenfranchisement regarding their pay, access to proper education, and treatment within the criminal justice system.
These communities are the ones who hurt the most in the wake of natural disasters. They often make up the percentage of those who are unable to evacuate to safety and recover their homes afterward.
Hurricane Katrina, (2005) impacted the city of New Orleans, Louisiana nearly $161 billion dollars in damages. While the entire city faced catastrophic damages, the Black/brown (Latinx) communities were affected the most.
As of 2016, there are ninety-six thousand less black people living in New Orleans, then there were prior to Katrina. This is so as the neighborhood that housed this population faced the least assistance from government aid.
In fact, many low income communities are still suffering to rebuild themselves. The Seventh Ward neighborhood home to working-class individuals is only 60% rebuilt, nearly a decade post Katrina (2016). To this day, 1 in 3 black New Orleans native suffer from housing displacement.
Truthfully, lasting effects of hurricanes are no stranger to communities of color beyond the contental U.S. Hurricane Maria, hit Puerto Rico (U.S territory) in 2017 causing widespread devastation, creating $94.4 billion in damages.
Maria hit directly after Irma, a hurricane that left without the island without power. Maria however, went on to destroy a majority of the homes on the island, which were already makeshift to begin with.
The island itself is mainly rural, houses the intersection of Taino indegineous, African, and Spanish populations. Many homes are partially rebuilt thanks to resources from FEMA, however, these homes are partially built with tarps covering any holes in infrastructure. Running water has just barely been restored to the entire island two years later.
That now brings us to the world’s most recent natural disaster, Hurricane Dorian (2019). Dorian went through the Bahamas first, then worked its way up to the East Coast. The Bahamas alone has collected damages that cost $7 billion dollars at least to repair.
2,500 people are missing, amongst the 50 deceased. Over 5,000 have been displaced to the U.S, many have lost the whereabouts of their family members.
The Bahamas, like many other Carribien islands house indigienous and African
populations living in a rural state, populations that cannot handle such widespread devastation. As of right now, relief to The Bahamas has been suspended as the island is getting ready to face tropical storm Humberto.
Regardless of that, hurricane relief is historically racist, so do what you can to help, as government based relief is statistically proven to only go so far.
To assist in the rebuilding of The Bahamas donate here.