Flooding in East Texas

Submerged cars, people boating down the street, homes stranded in the middle of rising waters … the images of heavy flooding are haunting. And we’re seeing them more often as global warming causes more extreme storms.

In low-lying and coastal areas, the wealthy often have plans and infrastructure in place to help protect their property. But working-class communities tend to be more vulnerable.

Activist Ashely Gordon saw this first-hand while helping clean up after a 2015 flood in Travis County, Texas. She was struck by the resemblance to post-Katrina New Orleans.

Gordon: “It was a very somber time. I got to speak to a couple of residents that, they weren’t living there. Their homes had been destroyed, but they were trying to come and get whatever they could salvage out of their homes.”

Gordon says a big barrier to recovery is that low-income families often lack flood insurance or the cash needed to rebuild after a heavy storm.

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Gordon: “So they just had to abandon their homes.”

It’s a complicated problem with no simple solutions. But the flooding in Travis County and elsewhere underscores that climate change is not only an environmental issue – it’s about social justice, too.

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Flooding in East Texas.

Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the Senior Editor of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist, and...