How Hurricane Harvey will impact African Americans Worse Financially

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Attorney Antonio Moore discusses the impact Hurricane Harvey is having on the nation, and particularly on Black Americans in the areas surrounding Houston. Moore uses data, and weather reports to give a nuanced view on the storms lasting effects, and how emergency preparedness can help families in initial days of a storm.

"Hurricane Harvey poised to disproportionately impact blacks in Texas, but no one is talking about it" Daily Kos

Jefferson County is 34 percent black. Other counties, like Harris, Galveston, Jasper, Colorado have black populations between 13-20 percent. Collectively, black people are the most populous minority in Southeast Texas though they are scattered around. This demographic data is important because it tells the story of who is likely to be impacted. In short, this hurricane is going to do incredible damage to the areas where black people live and many aren’t in positions to evacuate or financially withstand the impact. For example, much of the black female population in Texas age 55 and over resides in Harris and Dallas counties, but many are also living in rural areas. Seniors are disproportionately impacted by hurricanes. They often live in areas vulnerable to storms and flooding, have difficulty with transportation and can be socially isolated. As an example, over half the people who died during Hurricane Katrina were 65 or older—they drowned or had other medical conditions that caused their deaths after becoming trapped in their homes.

Noteworthy also is the high percentage of people in poverty [in Texas] who are African American women, especially single parents. Of the 24% of African Americans below poverty level, single mothers make up 65%. Black women are a particularly marginalized group in Texas. Not only are many of them living in poverty, Texas has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world and black women in the state are more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white or Hispanic women. While the state does have a group of lawmakers who have formed a maternal mortality task force to look into the issue, Republicans are much more interested in passing bills to limit access to abortion and cutting family planning funding. That means they aren’t at all worried about saving the lives of black women and this hurricane is unlikely to be any different. The damage from this event will be severe. And it will have a lingering impact on jobs, health and transportation long after landfall.

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