Hurricane Investigations Uncover Disparity in Relief Response
(TargetLiberty.org) – A new report by civil rights officials alleges federal responses to two hurricanes in 2017 were different, causing “potential civil rights issues.” One storm hit the Gulf of Mexico and the other Puerto Rico. Both were large, violent storms that caused immense damage, but the government’s reaction was very different.
A new report shows that the U.S. government left marginalized groups behind during Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. https://t.co/8aQwcsi9GT
— Climate Nexus (@ClimateNexus) September 23, 2022
On September 21, the US Commission on Civil Rights released a report on “Civil Rights and Protections During the Federal Response to Hurricanes Harvey and María.” Harvey hammered southern Texas and Louisiana from August 25-29, killing 106 people and causing around $125 billion worth of damage. Barely three weeks later, Maria swept over the northeast Caribbean, killing an estimated 3,059 people, with 2,975 of them in Puerto Rico. It caused around $90 billion in damage.
The Commission says the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) reaction to the two hurricanes “differed on many fronts.” According to the report, the response to Harvey was “on a larger scale and faster than the response to María,” which allegedly had a significant effect on survivors. FEMA allocated $141.8 million to assist victims of Harvey, but just $6.2 million for Maria — despite there being many more victims.
The report also criticizes FEMA’s failure to tailor its efforts to the environment. The report says that when the agency translated documents into Spanish, the results were often “inaccurate and confusing,” and that sign language interpreters sent to Puerto Rico only knew American Sign Language, not the Spanish variant used there. It took Puerto Rico a lot longer to recover than Texas; was the difference in the federal government’s response to blame?
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