A Record Year for Hurricanes Exposes Racial Disparities on the Gulf Coast

After another record-breaking hurricane season, environmental justice activist Hilton Kelley discusses deeply rooted racial disparities complicating disaster relief on the Gulf Coast.


Note: This a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.

Mike Ludwig: Hi it’s Mike Ludwig with Truthout.org coming to you from New Orleans, Louisiana, where we’ve just recovered from Hurricane Zeta. You’re listening to Zeta outside my front door just a couple weeks ago.

Welcome to the front lines of the climate crisis. We’re expecting a Biden presidency to begin in January, but by now we know that simply unseating President Trump won’t be enough to get us out of this mess. In fact, the most vital work is being done at the grassroots level in the communities already impacted by rising seas, intensifying storms, raging wildfires and pollution. In this critical moment, we’re launching a podcast to amplify stories about our rapidly changing world and raise up the voices of those fighting for environmental justice and sustainable future. And we’re starting right here, in the Gulf South, where Hurricane Zeta was only the most recent storm to slam into the coast.

As of this recording, meteorologists have named 29 major storms and hurricanes in the Gulf and Atlantic, breaking a seasonal record set in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Scientists say climate change is making storms stronger, more frequent and also wetter, increasing the risk of catastrophic flooding. While Zeta caused widespread damage and power outages, the storm was not as severe as Hurricane Laura, a fierce Category 4 storm that barreled into southwest Louisiana and east Texas in late August. Laura caused intense damage, destroying homes, forcing evacuations, and killing at least 27 people.

Hurricanes are part of life on the Gulf Coast, but they also expose deep inequalities. Southern Louisiana has a legacy of slavery and white supremacy, and communities of color across the Gulf South are more likely to be located in flood zones, and next to oil refineries and other fossil fuel polluters. After Hurricane Laura – and later, Hurricanes Delta and Beta — struck southwest Louisiana and East Texas, activists sprang into action to help Black and Latinx neighborhoods recover. To learn more, I spoke with Hilton Kelley, an environmental justice organizer from Port Arthur, Texas.

ML: You’re outside of Houston, right?

Hilton Kelley: Yeah. Yeah. I am in Port Arthur, Texas, which is, we’re Southeast of Houston. We are a hundred miles Southeast of Houston, right on the Gulf. And how are you affected by the hurricanes this year? Well, we were impacted, you know, greatly in this area, by the wind.

And, of course there’s always a threat for flooding. So we got hit pretty good by Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Delta. But Hurricane Laura did more damage to the Lake Charles area and the, um, the, uh, Cameron Louisiana area Lake Charles Benton, Louisiana. They really caught the brunt of it. But initially, Port Arthur was dead center and dead bullseye for Hurricane Laura and then it shift and went 40 miles to our East and really did a job on the Lake Charles Louisiana area.

Uh, Cameron, Louisiana, Vinton. Uh, Sulphur, Louisiana, and let’s see… Westlake, Louisiana, but Port Arthur, we had a lot of roof damage, some fence damage. There was no water this time, like Hurricane Harvey, but yet the wind did a lot of damage. And, um, I think Cameron took on a lot of water from the surge because they were on the, on the East side of that, of that storm, Hurricane Laura.

Now, when we talk about. Hurricane Delta, um, Hurricane Delta also added insult to injury with right after Hurricane Laura. And so Lake Charles and port Arthur, same damage. But once again, Lake Charles was heavy as hit because the storm literally went right over Lake Charles once again. And so it it’s, it’s really, really tough.

I mean, we are still trying to come back from these storms. And, um, many people are still waiting for FEMA assistance from Hurricane Laura, which hasn’t made it to their area yet … when it comes to Lake Charles Louisiana area, I guess they’re still doing major assessments, but then again, you know, they just got hit by Hurricane Delta and then the work that was being done by locals and volunteer groups.

Basically, they have to start all over again and not dimension the long periods of time that, you know, these folks go without light, uh, electricity. And also, you know, we had to talk more about Texas, well, Orange, Texas, which is like 18 miles from here from Port Arthur, um, is just, it’s sits right on the Louisiana-Texas border on the Texas side.

That’s why it’s Orange, Texas. Um, they got hit pretty hard, a lot of moderate- to low-income people. And what we’re finding is that those with means have a better chance of recovering quicker and more efficiently than those without, uh, many of those with means can afford to wait until FEMA come and assess the damage and give them some type of, uh, reparation for what they’ve been through due to a natural disaster.

But those without, I mean, they go days sometime with, without light, um, without any type of generators, which was desperately needed, many people were elderly. They need a, some type of system to keep them cool. Uh, some people were, are on oxygen machines and some people you don’t have to take their blood pressure, all sorts of medical issues that many people have in the moderate- to low-income areas, which really put them in a precarious situation without electricity, and in Orange, Texas, these folks went without electricity, I think for about 12 days. And in some parts of Lake Charles right now, they’re still without electricity. So it’s really a tough situation. Whenever you go through a hurricane of hurricane Laura proportions that bring really heavy winds up to 150 miles an hour and over trees and the trees landed on top of homes. And if you go to Lake Charles right now, and today’s date is October the 21st, 20, 20, you still have a lot of trees on homes. You still have homes that have holes in the top of them. And some people are electing to still stay there because they have some choice and some people still have not returned from wherever they evacuated from oil, still staying with relatives in nearby communities.

ML: So, what you’re seeing is a disparity between people who have the means to perhaps evacuate and get a hotel room and to stay in that hotel room for awhile and people who, um, had to stay in their homes and ride out the storm and continue living in their homes after the storm, despite the damage.

HK: That is correct because they run out of financial support, be it their savings or support that they were being given by family members. Because you got gotta keep in mind. You know, the FEMA really don’t kick in until after the situation has calmed down. The Red Cross, I believe, is really stretched thin, and there wasn’t a huge presence that I saw on the ground. When I went to Lake Charles, Louisiana, shortly after Hurricane Laura, and then we had to wait out, we were working in Lake Charles, helping to remove trees from property.

Helping people to get generators and whatnot so that they could have some type of cooling system going and to help keep their refrigeration going. So refrigerators was in high demand and it still is in some cases, but at the same time, we did what we could, but then came the threat of Hurricane Delta just just two weeks ago.

And, uh, we had to leave that area and sort of wait out Hurricane Delta. And even after the storm had come and gone, then we had the steel way, maybe another six, seven days where we could get in there because the traffic was so bad on that corridor going into I-10 I’m going into Luke’s house down I-10 and not to mention many people were still evacuated, but I just went there last Thursday — a week ago today, a week ago, almost a week ago today.

And what I found was that there’s debris everywhere. There are trucks they’re picking up debris there. You know, there’s a lot of trash dumped on side of the road. Uh, you, you many residents are still not in their homes because their homes really, in many cases are uninhabitable, but for the people that are there, they said there has been no presence of FEMA at this particular time.

And, uh, you got to keep in mind, many people were still willing from the Hurricane Laura situation. So it’s, it’s really tough in Lake Charles right now. And even here in Port Arthur, Texas, many of the folks that were mandatorily evacuated during Hurricane Laura are still trying to recoup some of the funds they had to spend because of their financial costs of being on the road with hotel costs, food costs.

And then when they got back, they found that most of their refrigeration of foods has spoiled. And, uh, what we are hearing from FEMA is that because they didn’t meet a certain threshold when it comes to damages that it didn’t qualify or this area did not qualify for FEMA support. But it’s my understanding that the state of Texas has been declared, uh, within that range as, as I speak now, what people to be compensated, but yet it’s so far and few in between.

When it comes to support to where, you know, people have kind of weather the storms, but they’re still dealing from the fallout of not having those resources to take care of their rent or to buy food or to get their electricity restored or what have you. So we’re in a situation here in Port Arthur as well, when it comes to the support that FEMA would ordinarily give after natural disaster, we still have not seen anything.

And the people at Lake Charles still have not seen anything after Hurricane Delta. Now, I’m not sure there are people been compensated for Hurricane Laura. But yet I know if some have, there’s still a whole lot of folks there that have not, and the same goes true for Beaumont, Texas, as well and everything in between.

ML: So people are still very much in need of emergency assistance in that region of Texas and also Southern Louisiana, it sounds like. And when you, and when you talk about FEMA and that federal aid reaching community, what kind of disparities have you seen between perhaps wealthier, whiter communities and communities of color?

HK: Well, what I’ve seen is that, you know, when it comes to housing, they seem to bounce back a little quicker because they have the means on a personal level. Well, many people who live in the moderate- to low-income areas do not have that luxury because many of them already on government subsidies, Section 8; they are working two and three mediocre jobs, which has been sort of delayed due to the present COVID situation that we’re dealing with across the nation.

And so there’s a lot of disparities here when it comes to economics. And when it comes to information, because much of the information that’s being passed, you need the internet to access and many people in your moderate- to low-income communities do not have access. So, therefore, they need to be physically in an office to get the information they need, or, you know, constantly glued to the television to find out where the resources are.

So there are a number of roadblocks or barriers that perpetuate that disparity.

ML: And where do you think the government could be doing better?

HK: Well, I think they could be doing better on their communication. I think they could be doing better when it comes to responding to these situations because by the time, you know, by instance case in point, we were hit by Hurricane Laura in 2017.

That goes with like August the 28th and what happened was that FEMA, by the time they responded, our home was so inundated with water to where it was just full of mold. And so the conditions with our home further degraded and the walls had buckled, they popped away from the foundation leaving the whole house in danger of collapsing.

All the sheet rock and throughout the house was full of mold. And the FEMA would tell you all, you learned that it’s best to leave the house as is until FEMA has an opportunity to assess the damage and give you a fair amount for your repairs. And so, and we found that, you know, even though you may have a contractor come out and give you a bid on how much it’s going to actually cost to repair your home to the way it was, or at least close to that.

Many times FEMA cannot match that. And maybe you will get maybe 50 percent of what the actual costs will be to fully restore your home. Or you may get, you know, maybe a third… And I believe that they actually need trained people on the ground. What I’m finding is that many of these people that come out and assess the damage to your home, or just regular folks like you and I, and I don’t believe they have any experience in the rebuilding of structures or the repairs of structures when it comes to your home being stable and in a good condition. I think many of these people are hard in a quick fashion, and they’re not even vetted on the knowledge as to how to assess a home, but damages.

ML: Right. And we know that climate change is making hurricanes more frequent and stronger and wetter. And we also know that the part of the Gulf South — where you are located and also these other communities — has a lot of petrochemical industry. Is there an increased risk to communities of color from pollution from all these facilities, the plastics and oil refineries … that are in these areas when these big storms hit?

HK: Well, yeah, there’s a major issue with that. What we’re finding is that whenever we have a storm, like a Hurricane Hobie situation, what you’ll find is that many of these industries have to go into shutdown mode. And whenever these industries go into shutdown mode, you have a large amount of pollution that’s released into the air during their emission events and flaring events.

Now what a flaring event looked like is just this huge, huge flare of fire that’s coming out of the tip of these tall derricks. Sometime the flare can be maybe 30 to 40 feet in length. And then what you see coming off of the tip of that Derrick is this player with all the fire, the flare, and then you see the smoke coming off.

The tip of that flare and the opacity is very, very thick. You can’t even see through the smoke. And what they’re doing at that particular point is burning off material that they had in their units and in the piping system, going to the unit to be processed and they burn it off because they can’t leave it stuck in the pipes, because if they did, then the crude oil would be put in such a state to where it’s very difficult to get out of the pipes and they would have to redo all those because it would harden.

And if this material hardens in the piping system, that is millions and millions of dollars, which they would have to spend to redo the piping system because of that crude oil sort of hardens and crusts inside the piping system. So, therefore, they send us material to the flare and to burn it, to empty those lines out.

But nonetheless, it still has a negative impact on the first-line community. And the city as a whole, because you have material that’s being sent out untreated into the environment. You have benzene being burned off…. You have sulfur dioxide being emitted into the air.

You have untreated petroleum material being dumped into the air number of gases. And so you smell the air and this smells horrible. You can smell the chemicals. You can smell the sulfur in the air depending on whether or not you’re downwind. And, and most of the time during that process, the wind shifts, it shifts in various directions.

So no matter where you are in Port Arthur, you’re going to get a dose of those toxins. And then when the hurricane actually hits and particularly if it brings water with it, a huge surge, the water washes through the whole city. And when it washes through the city, of course it hits the plant grounds and whatnot. And you have toxins that sometime may wash off of that property into the city. So it’s not always safe to walk in in that floodwater because you could be contaminated by petroleum products. Now, the plants here, the city of Port Arthur, have these berms built all the way around them to contain any spillage from their storage tanks or units.

But many times it still has a way of leaching out into the floodwaters in the community. Just like what happened in New Orleans during Katrina? I think it was Murphy Oil, something like that had a huge storage tank that raised and a lot of the petroleum, uh, oil is sort of spewed out over that community that was close to it, leaving the soil contaminated and unusable.

And so these are the kinds of things that we deal with. And many times after these incidents, there are explosions. As a matter of fact, the Valero oil refinery had one of their tanks exploded in 2017, shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit. And it rattled windows up to half a mile away. And many people had to shelter in place due to that explosion.

And the material had to burn itself out. So there’s a lot of things that are going on that further exacerbate the problems when we have hurricanes here in the Southeast Texas region.

ML: I always kind of marvel at that. That is, you know, it is the petrochemical industry and then just fossil fuel consumption and production in general, that is driving climate change, that is intensifying these storms and then these storms show up and they cause pollution to come from that same exact industry that is so common to see down here in the Gulf South. And I’m wondering if we can take a kind of bigger picture, look at the way climate change is impacting your community and the communities that you work with across that region.

Do you think that the disparities in disaster relief that you’ve seen over the past few weeks reflect broader disparities in the way the government supports or doesn’t support communities that are affected by pollution, communities of color that are disproportionately affected by pollution?

HK: Well, yeah, I mean, a lot of the disparities that we’re dealing with now, um, is in indirect path of climate change. I mean, case in point: many African Americans have preexisting conditions, um, when it comes to being more susceptible to COVID-19. When we talk about hypertension … hypertension is a disease to where you have high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, your kidney and your liver is impacted.

And you have to take medication. Well, what brings on hypertension — there are a number of factors, you know, not having a proper diet, sometimes chemical exposures, like the high sulfur dioxide in the environment that contributes to hypertension and illnesses. And what we’re finding is that, you know, these industries dump out a lot of toxins that also contribute to cancer…. We have benzene, we have sulfuric acid that’s being dumped into the air. All of these things kind of downgrade your health, your immune system. And when we talk about the impacts to the climate and climate change, well, we all know that, you know, the planet is warming up due to fossil fuel production and due to the amount of gases that they dump into the air, which create ground-level ozone.

And when you have ground-level ozone, it sorta blankets the heat and keeps it locked in whenever the infrared light strikes the Earth. And that heat can’t escape quick enough. So then the Earth starts to take on a different temperature. And what we’ve noticed here in Southeast Texas is that our winters aren’t as cold as they were once were many years ago.

I remember when you can walk around here and pull it off there. Let’s just say maybe in November, in December, in January and the grass would crunch under your feet due to the cold weather. Well, now most of the year we’ll walk it around in flip-flops in January, November, December, sometime, and every now and then we’ll have a cool flash, but that’s about it.

What we also discovered is that the McFaddin Beach here in the city … If you go to the beach back in the ’60s and ’70s, you would go to the beach down I-87. I-87 would take you right to McFaddin Beach, but now you can’t go that route anymore. You have to take an alternate route. You have to go north then head west on 73 and you hit Winnie. Then you go 30 miles through Winnie. Then you drop back down to 87 because a portion of I-87 has been washed out due to the surf on the Gulf…. Now that’s because of sea level rise. That surf has overtaken certain sections of i-87 and leaders in the state and in the city half a year has been battling with how to circumvent the impacts of the Gulf approaching for the inland. So I have seen firsthand sea level rise. And I remember McFaddin Beach and the surf sitting back off of the roll back in 1968, maybe all the way up until the ’80s where it’s set back, but it slowly crept up on us and now it’s covering the road.

So that’s sea level rise and I’ve witnessed it first firsthand. And that’s largely in part because of the polar caps that are melting, glaciers are melting. And when you take a holistic approach and look at the bodies of water on our planet, we know that the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Black Sea, the Pacific Ocean — all these water bodies connect at some point.

And if you have large chunks of ice, bigger than Rhode Island, or almost a quarter of the size of Texas falling off into these waters and did actually melting, well, of course the water is going to rise because the ice is no longer frozen and when ice melts, it is water. And so that water has to go somewhere. So the oceans absorb it, but at the same time, the ocean swell and the tides come further inland — it is just a no-brainer on how that works. It’s almost like having a glass of a glass of ice and you have that ice stack about the same length of the glass, but the ice stack about a lift of that, the same as the glass above the glass, where as long as that ice is frozen, you’re not going to have a problem with water spilling out over the table. But as that ice starts to melt. And then the water in the glass is up to the rim and that ice continues to melt. Well, of course the water’s going to overflow the glass and then basically that’s what’s happening with our planet. That’s what we’re seeing.

ML: And of course, when the sea levels rise, that makes communities like yours and others in the Gulf South, more threatened, great, or excuse me, chronic-

HK: Yeah, we have chronic flooding because what happens is when a hurricane comes in, you know, if the surf was sitting back, let’s just say another 40 yards from the road. Well, without that, a hurricane would have a tougher time pushing it inland, but now with the sea levels being higher, and then we have a approaching hurricane coming in. Well, now it’s easier for that hurricane to push water inland and flood communities. And so what we’re seeing now is that we’re having a disproportionate number of hurricanes coming into the Gulf. We have a large number of communities that are being flooded, not only here in Port Arthur, but in Florida. Florida is constantly flooding and believed to be sinking.

We even seeing it on the Eastern side where water’s rising and even, and some of your interior communities too, that you have a lot of bodies of water that’s arising because somehow you have those underground cabins and they also are linked to the marsh areas, the low-lying areas where the water is mixed and slowly push inward.

So a lot of what we’re going through now, when it comes to sea level rise, you know, extreme heat when it comes to summer, you know, a serious lack of weather patterns that are once regular with ice and snow has diminished … because of the carbon material that’s in our atmosphere, that’s blocking and creating this, this ground-level ozone and as helping them melt the glaciers, all of this is tied together.

And of course, low-lying areas are more susceptible to flooding because those lands are what sort of creates a barrier for the higher-ground areas. But historically, if we take a look at why those areas are impacted and why the people they are impacted … if we take a look at the history and go back during the Emancipation Proclamation, when it was signed and the African Americans were deemed as free citizens. Well, we were free on paper, but we still weren’t free to live wherever we chose. Therefore, there were laws in place on a federal state and local level that dictated where African Americans could live.

And we were given a area and most of those areas were in low-lying areas in your Delta areas like the Mississippi Delta. African-Americans … had to inhabit those areas due to unfair housing practices right here in Texas… I was born and raised on the west end of Port Arthur, which isn’t a low-lying area. We grew up, you know, with flooding being a regular thing in our community. But the policy that be within your city government, within your state government, within your federal government knew what Black people were being subjected to. They knew that we were being put in these areas that were deemed, you know, not lands that weren’t necessarily desired by others.

And yet they forced us to live there to at least benefit from it by in some way. And yet those same lands are passed down generation after generation to their relatives. And so this is why we still have a large number of people living in those low-lying areas, because we’re in trapped there. And we were in trapped there by state, federal and local governments. And I believe that they owe it to the people in those communities to assist them with either vacating or doing something to elevate their homes and to create a sustainable way of existing in that community or in those communities with the changing of our climate.

Part of the Green New Deal is not just a transition to renewable energy. It’s about creating jobs by building resilience, and infrastructure in communities that are most impacted by climate change, including the storms that come off the Gulf. And when you look at around at Port Arthur and Lake Charles, and as you said, people who have been structurally left to live in these more vulnerable low-lying areas, how could they benefit from that kind of federal investment, especially now when they’re still recovering from a hurricane and the support that exists has not reached everybody who needs it? Well, we could benefit in a number of ways.

Number one, I would like to take a look first at how will we benefit from this thing by being able to exist there. By the federal government, state government and local governments actually working together in partnership to ensure that those infrastructures in underserved communities, low-lying areas can be built. This is what it’s going to take: Everybody working in unison; with that in mind is that we must do this thing to assist those people living in those areas. And we must give it 110 percent. To ensure that they can still, uh, maintain and have a better quality of life there. What needs to happen is people need assistance.

As a matter of fact, right now, with elevating their homes; case in point: when Hurricane Harvey hit it, brought with it water; the Port Acres area, the El Vista area, uh, Vista village — all those areas are in low-lying areas. And they were heavily impacted by water. Some of these homes took on six, seven feet of water. Many of those neighborhoods, it almost looked like a something in a Twilight Zone because it’s like people just picked up and left and some of those homes are fairly nice homes. African Americans lived there. Some of them were retirees that were teachers. That were firemen, that were policemen, and these were Black communities where African-Americans had to live.

And when these people were in their heyday, much younger, well, Jim Crow was still very much in effect. So even though they were prominent citizens in the city, they were African American. So they, by law, they had to live in the areas where they retired. And they put all their money into their invested all of their earnings and life savings into this land.

And so now that those lands are flooding six, seven feet of water. Now these people have had to vacate and the city will not help them to elevate their homes unless they have a plan and they have a fund. The financial means to do it. Many of them do not. Because they were retirees and that’s this one case for our community of what we’re going through, but this is happening all along the Gulf of Mexico, where you have those low-lying, underserved communities.

I think our governments would encompass to federal, state and local governments should do all they can to help people that are in those areas … to get rid of some of the protocols that were put in place to sort of take those lands by forcing people to lift their own homes. It’s not doable for them because they don’t have the money to do it. So, therefore, those people are going to lose their land and then they have to find somewhere else to live on their own dime, due to the fact they were forced to live in an area that was a known flood zone many, many years ago.

Our governments knew that these were marshy areas that these were low-lying areas, and yet they still put people that they forced them to live there. So I think our federal and state and local governments always some type of reparation to those people who were forced to live in those areas. And I think it would be great to start with a notice, letting people know that if you live in a low-lying area, we have a plan to help you to rebuild or elevate your home, in any event that it was damaged or destroyed by a flood event or a hurricane. Now, when it comes to that, that’s one way we could benefit. Another way we could benefit is if they have a robust effort in prepping and training, the young people in those areas for job opportunities in that rebuilding structure sector and help them to be the hands on the ground when it comes to carpentry, when it comes to plumbing, when it comes to electrical and rebuilding the infrastructure, they need to be trained in some shape, form or fashion to be a part of that process and to be able to take advantage of those jobs.

And training opportunities. I think that would do our communities a great service by helping our young people to be educated in some type of craft to help rebuild those communities. And then after that’s done, they could go on to other communities to do the same thing there, thus keeping their employment going and also train others.

ML: Right. You know, I think it’s so interesting that when we talk about climate-resilient infrastructure, that could be as simple as raising someone’s home. I also think it’s interesting for people who live in other parts of the country to think about, you know, sometimes we see these floods and hurricanes and the aftermath on television and we see the house is underwater and people ask, Well, why would they live there?

And what you’re saying is that there’s structural racism behind that story. There are reasons people live where they do going back decades. And I think that is so fascinating. One last question for people who are listening from other parts of the country who want to help out, is there any place that you would direct people who, um, want to help with what continues to be a disaster relief in the wake of the hurricanes in the Gulf South?

HK: Well, yeah. As a matter of fact, you can go to CIDAInc.org and you can make a contribution there to help support the work that we’ve been doing — going out, finding ways to support people by buying generators, by cutting trees off of their home. Now, we are transitioning with trying to do what we can to assist people with some of their basic home repairs, like replacing windows or helping them to reframe a wall or sheet rock their home. We are boots on the ground. We are labor-ready, but at the same time, it takes money to buy the material. It takes money to compensate some of the young people that did not have a job, but we are helping to create jobs for them by going into these communities and helping to rebuild and to shore up some of the homes that are there in our community. So we are here in the community doing the work.

We live in a community where we work and those communities that we don’t live in that are in the same conditions. Like here in Port Arthur. Well, we have traveled to Orange. We’ve done work in Orange, Texas. We’ve done work in, uh, Westlake. We have doing work in Lake Charles, Louisiana. So Lake Charles is only 50 minutes a way from Port Arthur, a 50-minute drive.

So we are doing what we can to assist as many people as we can. But of course, as we all know, resources are very necessary. Material is necessary. A line of credit would even help, you know, as the number of ways in which people can assist if they really want to. And if they would like to mail some kind of support, monetary support, you can mail it to 600 Austin Avenue, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640.

And you can make the check out to Hilton Kelley. Or you could make it out to the Community In-Power and Development Association, Incorporated. And that is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, which I founded in 2000. So we are doing all that we can to assist those people in those low-lying areas in the underserved community. As a matter of fact, we are still dealing with getting people compensated from FEMA after Hurricane Delta. Nobody really has been compensated for the hotels that they had to spend money in, the fuel that they had to use or buy to get out of harm’s way and the food they had to buy on the road to sustain themselves.

And then they come back home. The electricity was out here for maybe about eight to nine days for most people. And then for some people, it was still out in some areas because they’re still working on the grid. And so there are so many different issues here to where you really have to jump in and not take a look at the big picture, but just take a look at what’s in front of you and lend a hand.

ML: Thank you so much Hilton. And thank you for sharing this crucial information from the front lines of climate change.

HK: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me on the show.

ML: Thank you for listening to “Climate Front Lines.” If you’ve enjoyed this episode and want to help us produce more, please go to Truthout.org and make a small donation.

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Music by Dan Mason