Telley Madina is a Coastal Communities Program Officer as part of Oxfam America’s US program. This is the second of two blogs.
Previously, I wrote about how Hurricane Isaac brought new levels of flooding to my state and my city, and how the loss of wetlands has exposed us to risk in new ways.
Bad news, for sure; but even worse is who’s getting hurt the most when extreme weather hits. Turns out it’s the most vulnerable – people who may be poor, elderly, disabled, unemployed. While I traveled through Louisiana in the wake of Isaac, I saw how people were able to cope with the impact of even a mild hurricane, which knocked out power for days.
The day after Isaac, not much was open around New Orleans. I stopped at the Burger King in Gretna, one of the few places open that was selling hot food and jam-packed with people. One guy, aware he would soon lose power, had pulled all the steak and shrimp out of his freezer the night before and hosted a barbecue. The guy next to him barely had enough money for a sandwich. I had no worries about the guy who might have lost some frozen supplies — but I wondered what would happen to the guy who was likely to head home to a place that may have been under water, but certainly would be hotter than heck.
Oxfam and our partners work in the Gulf Coast to defend the rights of the most vulnerable, and to help them build resilience. I’m lucky enough to have the resources to prepare for this type of event, and to cope with the aftermath. All around me, though, I see what it means not to have the money to invest in simple tools.