Last year saw the most destructive Atlantic hurricane season on record. As climate change pushes ocean temperatures ever higher, scientists predict storms will continue growing more severe.
How did we get here? And what steps are we taking to ensure that rising seas and catastrophic weather don’t swallow American communities whole? This week’s episode investigates.
First in the hour, Reveal and Texas Tribune reporter Neena Satija wades through the damage left by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. It turns out that developers built thousands of homes inside a reservoir – a 50-square-mile area that’s not just flood prone; it’s designed to flood. Many residents didn’t know this because there’s no law requiring anyone to tell them. So after Harvey, they were left with destroyed homes and little recourse.
After that, WWNO’s Tegan Wendland visits the dissolving edges of Louisiana’s coastline, where rising seas are threatening to create a wave of climate change refugees. Using an elaborate statistical model, scientists in the state have estimated that as many as 2,400 homes are likely to face permanent flooding. The solution? Buy residents out and help them find new housing elsewhere. But those who live in the affected area aren’t eager to move, and the cost of relocating them could run higher than $1 billion. That’s money Louisiana doesn’t have.
Finally, how many people have actually died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria? The official death toll remains at 64, but as our partners at Latino USA and Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism report, the real number may actually be more than 1,000 storm-related deaths. Image: Gabriel Hongsdusit for Reveal