Who Gets to Rebuild After a Natural Disaster?

The 7 most devastating climate disasters of summer 2021

The climate crisis ravaged the United States this summer. As the West struggled with unrelenting drought and dozens of wildfires, a deadly heat wave seared the Northwest in June. Months later, back-to-back hurricanes — Henri and Ida — slammed the Northeast, breaking all-time rainfall records.

Members of the New Market Volunteer Fire Company perform a secondary search in Helmetta, New Jersey, during an evacuation effort following a flash flood from Tropical Storm Henri.

Beyond the US, China and Germany experienced deadly flooding events in July, as Canada and southern Europe battled pernicious wildfires of their own. Meanwhile, precipitation at the summit of Greenland fell as rain and not snow for the first time on record.

“It was shocking to me that huge tracts of the country spent weeks under air quality alerts from the large wildfires in the West and Canada”

 Rachel Licker, senior climate scientist 

“It was impossible to ignore climate change this summer,” Rachel Licker, a senior climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNN. “And unfortunately, this isn’t a one-time thing … this is what we can expect more of, especially if we don’t get off fossil fuels and invest in measures to build our resilience as soon as possible.”

After months of deadly extremes, Americans’ feelings on the climate crisis has evolved dramatically. For the first time, a majority of Americans now believe that the US is facing the consequences of a warming world, according to a new poll from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication…READ ON

Who Gets to Rebuild After a Natural Disaster?

My town has been destroyed three times in the past 13 years. After every disaster, the town has had to decide what to rebuild. Those choices have revealed the ugly reality of who we are and what we are willing to save.

The first time was in 2008. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a river town, but this was the worst flooding we had ever seen. I hefted sandbags in front of homes and businesses as the slow creep of dark water submerged the streets. I waded thigh-deep through muck and climbed in through the roof of my employer’s office to save the art inside. When the waters receded, the mold gave me migraines.

That was a 500-year flood—the kind we would hopefully never see again. But eight years later, before the Army Corps of Engineers had even finished its assessment of the disaster, the town flooded again—a 100-year flood this time. I helped dismantle the local bookstore, carrying boxes of books to the second floor of the building late at night…READ ON

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