- Gabrielle Hendricks
The Destruction of Hurricane Ida
Mass destruction, economic tolls and even death are some of the misfortunes that the infamous Hurricane Ida is leaving in its midst. This terrible hurricane affects the Northeastern and Southeastern regions of the United States, the Caribbean and sections of Central America. The wide range and destructive power Ida holds places into perspective 21st-century climate change, state preparation and civilian safety.
Hurricane Ida is not an arbitrary hurricane, as it follows in succession to the numerous mass natural disasters the world has been witnessing for the past five or so years. Many compare Hurricane Ida to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, especially because both hurricanes are severely concentrated in Louisiana and occurring in the same period. Despite the mass destruction Katrina caused to the south, Ida is much more robust in power as it was categorized as a 4, while Katrina was a 3 when it reached Louisiana. Ida also differs from Katrina in the methods by which it evolved. Ida is the result of the horrendous climate change caused by pollution issues across the world. Climate change on the part of man has been happening for about a century now and was even occurring in 2005, but for the past five years, climate change has been rampant and much more apparent. The melting of the ice caps, the wildfires across places like California and Australia and the earthquakes experienced by Latin America have been on the rise and more destructive than ever before. Hurricane Ida and other hurricanes like her are no different from the other natural disasters listed. Hurricane Ida affecting regions of power such as the eastern part of the United States, where New York and Washington D.C. are located, will hopefully allow policymakers to finally fight against climate change and stop ignoring it for the benefit of themselves and their constituents.
Many states, especially those in the Deep South such as Louisiana and Mississippi, were not as adequately prepared for Ida as they could have been. As of now, states in the South, especially Louisiana, are uninhabitable and somewhat underwater. Even states of the North have been affected, like the isle states of New York and New Jersey. The main differences between a state like Louisiana and New York and New Jersey are that its large city of New Orleans is located eight feet below sea level, and the state has a lack of monetary support compared to the rest of the United States. The reason why Louisiana has not suffered as many casualties with Ida compared to Katrina is because of the updated levees, as the state learned its lesson with Katrina breaking the inadequate levees, leaving thousands dead. Despite having updated, suitable levees, the South has not prepared itself for other damages such as the loss of electricity, water main breaks and evacuation orders.
These factors bring us to questions of leadership and the possibility of environmental racism and classism. Like Hurricane Katrina, places like New Orleans with majority-colored populations and people who make below the average income are most affected by Ida. These people do not have the resources to escape their homes. Some do not have access to generators as their electricity is obsolete and some do not have access to clean water as the water mains are broken in their cities. The upper-class populations of the South have the resources to evacuate their homes, and their cities have the funds to assist them in doing so. As displayed by the televised news in the South, places inhabited by black and brown people and impoverished white communities are experiencing the brunt of the trauma Ida has left behind. The nation needs to hold the Southern state officials and upper powers of the United States accountable for taking better care of the people, especially their vulnerable communities. This same issue was seen in Katrina, which happened over a decade ago, so it is highly inexcusable that the same problem is reoccurring in this new age.
The lives of many people are and will continue for some time to be negatively affected by Hurricane Ida. Given the children kept from school, the people lacking access to essential resources, and the death of loved ones swept away by the floodwaters, Hurricane Ida will be a historical atrocity. Hurricane Ida could have been handled much more appropriately or prevented if the world leaders were willing to take climate change seriously, place resources and means of evacuation methods into lower-income communities and prepare in advance. Instead of blaming the weather, we should start placing the blame on our officials.