What Hurricane Ida Reveals About Climate Change

Alexander Matthews

As climate change and its effects batters much of the U.S, Hurricanes are continuously becoming more and more common in the South and on the East Coast.

Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 26th, which coincided with the 16ht anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The storm was a Category 4 hurricane and caused over $50 billion in damages, and was tied for the sixth costliest Atlantic hurricane in history. The entire City of New Orleans lost electricity, as well as over 800,000 households in surrounding parishes. Much infrastructure was damaged, rendering interstates, ports, and airports inaccessible. Hurricane Ida also had catastrophic effects in the Mid-Atlantic region and New England, causing 54 fatalities and $16 billion in damage. Ida caused multiple tornadoes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts as well. Ida’s effect in New York City Metropolitan Area caused the MTA, Amtrak, NJ Transit, and the Long Island Railroad to shut down services due to flooding on roads and in stations. Poorer and minority-heavy neighborhoods on Long Island and in Newark, NJ flooded, while wealthier and whiter neighborhoods in Manhattan and NJ suburbs stayed relatively dry. Many basement apartments in New York City, many which are inhabited by people with low-income, undocumented immigrants, and people in poverty, were flooded, and many deaths in the city came from tenants trapped in these apartments. 

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated much of Louisiana and Mississippi. However, Black, Hispanic, and impoverished people in these states were affected much more than white people and people who were wealthier. These people were able to evacuate, or had resources to properly protect their home from extensive damage, while marginalized groups did not. Hurricane Ida continued to shine a light on how climate change has been proven to have especially destructive consequences on people of color and people in poverty or are low-income. Fighting climate change is not only an environmental justice issue, but also a racial and class justice issue as well.