(Photo1. Hurricane victims evacuating in knee deep water.)
During the very end of this past August, a terrible hurricane destroyed America’s 4th largest city. The massive amount of rainfall caused horrible flooding and destruction in Houston, Texas. However, this was not the first time that American citizens have witnessed a catastrophic tropical storm. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit a different part of the southern United States, New Orleans, Louisiana, and it had nearly the same patterns as Hurricane Harvey has inflicted in these past few weeks.
Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina have some subtle differences, but they have one main similarity that is particularly striking. Both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey have had the worst effect on African Americans and lower class individuals. It has been 12 years since Hurricane Katrina, but race and class issues are still a main concern in the United States’ society. Even though Category 5 hurricanes are detrimental to everyone in the affected area, it is the aftermath that can be the most disadvantageous towards lower class people and African Americans.
Figure 1. An info-graphic of the main similarities and differences between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina.
To put things into perspective, 30% of Houston residents live below the poverty line. Not unlike other US cities, the poverty in Houston is dramatically racialized. Most of these people’s homes are found in areas close to flood lines. Also, to further increase this issue, the National Flood Insurance Program is underfunded and it is oriented to focus on homeowners. This is a disadvantage to people who are in public housing because it leaves them with even fewer options. Additionally, the media is not portraying this natural disaster to be as devastating as it is to African Americans and poor Americans; instead, it is more concerned with climate change and other environmental issues. Although it is true that climate change is one of the most influential factors to tropical storms like this, it should not overshadow how much African Americans are being hurt by this hurricane.
With that said, in order to rebuild the cities and the society, local government and federal government need to put more emphasis on tending to the needs of these people. Without this requirement, it will be an endless cycle of disadvantaged poor people whose difficulties are enhanced by natural disasters.