FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29th, 2017
Contact: Brooke Havlik, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY — A catastrophic storm has hit southern Texas and Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, causing unprecedented damage and destruction to local communities. Climate change is only bringing more fierce and frequent storms to coastal cities like Houston and New York City, and vulnerable communities will likely bear the heaviest burdens.
In response to Hurricane Harvey, WE ACT’s Executive Director Peggy Shepard has joined the call for a #AJustHarveyRecovery and for communities to organize and develop their own climate resilience plans.
“Our hearts are heavy this week as we watch the news coming out of southern Texas. The reality of lost homes, flooded streets, and fear for life and safety reminds us of Hurricane Sandy just five years ago, and Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans 12 years ago. While some may use the phrase, “natural disaster,” there is nothing natural about what is happening right now. Our Earth is crying out for us to heed its warnings. Just like Hurricane Sandy, Harvey is showing us that human-caused climate change has the potential to amplify the damage of hurricanes beyond our wildest dreams. And the catastrophic impacts will hit poor, immigrant, elderly, and disabled people harder than others, extending long after the floodwaters cease – from disparities in mental healthcare to flood insurance.
FEMA has already said that recovery will “take years.” This is no surprise as communities in NYC are still recovering from Sandy five years later, and communities of color and low income in the Gulf Coast states are still waiting for justice and the equitable distribution of recovery funds. The recovery in Texas will be a long one, but communities of color and low-income residents need a just recovery. This means that community and faith-based organizations must have a seat at the table in the development and execution of local recovery and resilience plans. We encourage community residents across the country to come together and develop their own through community-planning sessions. Why? Because we know that Harvey is not the first hurricane, and it surely won’t be the last – so we must equip ourselves with the tools to prepare for emergencies and the policies that will implement community-driven solutions.
Our thoughts are with all those whose lives have been disrupted or lost by massive flooding and who will struggle to recover from one of the worst storms in U.S. history. We stand ready to support our friends and allies in Houston’s East End, as we hear reports from the environmental justice organization, T.E.J.A.S., that they are choking on toxic poison from flares at nearby oil and gas refineries. Increased flooding could also trigger an environmental disaster in fence-line communities. All of us should take heart from the resilience of the human spirit but work to ensure that the hopes and aspirations for recovery and sustainability are realized. “
To give directly to frontline communities, we recommend Another Gulf is Possible’s “A Just Harvey Recovery” list: anothergulf.com/a-just-harvey-recovery
View WE ACT’s community-driven climate resiliency plan at: weact.org/nmca
WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in Harlem, NYC and Washington, DC. Visit us at www.weact.org and follow us on Twitter @weact4ej.