Hurricane Laura Forces Louisiana to Invest in Resilience and Climate Justice
Hurricane Laura, packing winds of about 150 mph and one of the most powerful storms to ever have made landfall in the U.S., has wreaked havoc on the State of Louisiana. Devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, in the last fifteen years the State of Louisiana has seen 7 major weather disasters and even more unnamed storms. The impact of Hurricane Laura has been compounded by the ongoing pandemic that has already devastated communities and upended people’s lives. With climate change having caused this year some of the warmest ocean temperatures on record, storms intensify more quickly.
In only two days Hurricane Laura grew from a tropical storm to a catastrophic Category 4, carrying far more water than the region’s flood planning was designed to withstand. Coastal communities, especially those with vulnerable demographics, lack adequate resources to invest in private insurance, backup power, preventative infrastructure and protection against ever more frequent and more intense extreme weather events. These underserved, poor, and rural populations were those most deeply impacted by Hurricane Laura.
Looking to post-storm reconstruction efforts, state leaders aim to overcome these inequities. With climate change posing an existential threat, reducing emissions is ever more critical to slow it down. Ironically housing numerous petrochemical, oil and gas industry facilities, Louisiana has one of the highest emissions levels per capita in the U.S. In fact, damages to these facilities caused by the hurricane further endanger these already devastated communities with the risk of toxic release. State government recognizes the need to drastically change policies on emissions to create sustainable, positive change for the region and to safeguard vulnerable communities from future risk to enable long-term resilience. At a time when the US is facing hundreds of active wildfires, devastating storms, record temperatures and a global pandemic, investing in climate justice is more critical than ever.
In the wake of Hurricane Laura and in the face of the increasing stream of storms forecast to come, Louisiana and its neighboring states must focus on carrying out emergency preparedness and disaster recovery efforts that will increase resilience and reduce emissions to mitigate the future impact of climate change, and at the same time they must take special measures to make sure to protect the most vulnerable communities which are so disproportionally affected by disasters.
This post is based on an article published on CNN by Liz Williams Russell, Climate Justice Program Director at the Foundation for Louisiana.
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