On Sept. 28, Hurricane Ian slammed Florida causing widespread damage, but Black residents of one Fort Myers neighborhood say they aren’t receiving the same level of help as non-Black communities in their area.
The neighborhood of Dunbar in Florida’s Fort Myers is a historically African-American community.
Black residents told NPR they feel forsaken in Ian’s aftermath. They have no electricity, and when water comes out of the faucet, but it’s little more than a thin brownish stream and unsafe to drink. According to NPR, there is a faint smell of sewage odors in the street.
Residents told the media outlet that when they call the power and water authorities, they get only vague, open-ended assurances.
“I understand that the city is trying its best to restore everybody’s power,” said resident Ta’Wan Grant. “But this is a common thing that I’m seeing in cities around America. Whenever a disaster happens, for some reason the city is slow to respond to people in ethnic communities, in low-income communities.”
“We are the ones who need the most help,” Grant says.
What’s happening in Florida right now is not unusual or unprecedented. While natural disasters affect everyone, when it comes to rebuilding and getting relief many times Black communities have complained that they are last helped, as was the case in Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed lots of southeast Louisiana in 2005. But years later, Black residents in New Orleans were still complaining about the lack of response and the lack of follow-up help to assist them in rebuilding their communities.
“There is an extra element of fear for Black folks during hurricane season. Even though hurricanes don’t specifically target Black communities, their lasting impact always seems to affect Black people the most,” NewsOne reported.
Take the time Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas in 2017. The southwest Houston neighborhood that suffered the worst flood damage was 49 percent nonwhite.
According to E&E News, four of the seven ZIP codes that suffered the costliest flood damage from Katrina were at least 75 percent Black.
“Urban flooding is a growing source of significant economic loss, social disruption, and housing inequality,” Texas A&M University flood expert Sam Brody told E&E News.
Andre McCourt discards waterlogged furniture from his home, Oct. 4, 2022, in North Port, Fla. after Hurricane Ian. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
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