By: Madalynn Matson
Summary. Hurricane Ida, bringing wind speeds of up to 150mph, brought destruction to all in it’s path. The storm is one of the largest ever recorded, leaving behind damaged houses, severe flooding, and devastation. While many were affected by the storm, many communities were hit harder than others, as is the case for many Indigenous people. The Houma Nation is the largest of fifteen Native tribes that Ida passed over, with upwards of 19,000 people living along the Gulf Coast. Despite its size, it isn’t recognized by the federal government, causing the nation to struggle with access to education, funds, and recovery aid. They also receive next to no help from the state government, forcing them to rely on outside donations. After Katrina, a study revealed that not many people even knew about the existence of Native communities in Louisiana. This, in addition to the general lack of media attention to Indigenous populations, reduces their aid and leaves many overlooked. After all, many don’t even realize these communities (a) exist and (b) are facing this much damage. Another pressing issue is the rapid coastal erosion in Mississippi and Louisiana. Rising sea levels are one of the main causes of the area’s alarming depletion of land. The buffer that had once slowed down the storm’s wind and water has been destroyed, allowing the hurricane to hit the area harder than ever. The road to recovery is expected to be a long one due to this level of damage. With climate change showing no signs of slowing down, coastal erosion continuing at rapid rates, and a lack of help from the government, many are worried for what is to come.
Why we should care? When talking about climate change, many refer to it as something that “could” or “will” happen. The Houma Nation is one of the many examples showing that it is already happening.
In this article, the Houma Nation’s chief, August Creppel, speaks about the devastation that hit his community. Houma is located on the Gulf coast, and is spread across six perishes. The nation received some of the worst damage from Ida, affecting over nineteen thousand Natives in that community alone. Many are unable to return, and if they do they are greeted with more rubble than home. Power and internet have been unstable, if available at all, and aid is incredibly difficult to come by for the state-recognized tribe. In addition to Ida, record temperatures plagued the country. The heat alone is dangerous and difficult to deal with, but coupled with hurricane recovery, no air conditioning, and no water, is entirely deadly. The article offers a new perspective on just how bad Ida has been.
Science in Action.
Dr. Jennifer Francis is a Senior Scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center.
Dr. Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, specializes in studying rapid changes in the Arctic, and how these changes are impacting the rest of the world. Her work covers the warming of the Arctic itself, and how recent, severe storms are the result of these changes in the Arctic. Francis’ early works looked into how moisture and energy exchanges occur throughout both the atmosphere and the globe. This work led her research to the connection of arctic warming and weather patterns closer to the equator. Francis has been working to better communicate her findings to the general public.