Reverend Yearwood: In Remembrance of Katrina, Why We Must Fight for Climate Justice
Do you remember where you were 10 years ago? For many of us, we were glued to the television.
We watched in horror as Hurricane Katrina surged to a Category 5 hurricane as it raced across the Gulf of Mexico, wondering when it would touch U.S. ground and fearing the worst.
Hitting the Gulf coast on the early morning of Aug. 29, 2005, Katrina would soon prove to be one of the most catastrophic storms in American history, causing more than 1,800 deaths and $100 billion in damage.
Fast-forward to today and you'll find vastly different opinions on the recovery of New Orleans following Katrina's aftermath. According to a study published this week by Louisiana State University, about four out of five white, Louisiana residents believe the state has mostly recovered from the storm while about three out of five African-American, Louisiana residents believe the opposite—and rightfully so.
Over the past 10 years, only two-thirds of New Orleans' pre-Katrina residents have returned. Thousands of the city's most vulnerable people are permanently displaced from their homes with no way of returning or attempting to rebuild their past. Schools, hospitals and social programs that served and supported these communities were devastated and never reinstated.
What has remained constant and a true barrier to fully rebuilding since Katrina in the face of this tragedy is the ever-looming presence of the fossil fuel industry. We know that African-American families are disproportionately affected by climate change and live closer to the sources of pollution that cause climate change: power plants, highways, drilling sites and factories. They suffer increased health impacts such as heart and respiratory diseases, higher health care costs, missed work and school and difficultly with learning. On top of that, climate change continues to drive more extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy and record-breaking heat waves—events to which many people of color and low-income communities are defenseless due to financial instability.
Too many lose their lives to climate change before they should. I've witnessed it far too many times.
As the fossil fuel industry continues to profit at the expense of the most vulnerable and contribute to climate change, we are facing the next greatest economic and racial injustice of our time. Just as my parents fought for equality, I find myself fighting today for existence—not just for access to a particular water fountain but any water fountain with clean water that is free of harmful pollution. We must look at climate change as a serious civil and human rights issue for the health of our world because if we don't solve this now, nothing else will matter.
As leaders like President Obama and former Presidents Clinton and Bush head to New Orleans this week to remember Hurricane Katrina and the lives lost, I hope they hear the cry of the thousands who are still victim to injustices since Hurricane Katrina. I hope they see all that was taken away from these communities and what has yet to be returned. I hope they pursue radical action to prevent such a climate change related disaster from ever happening again.
We need these leaders' support in this fight, as a fossil-free future is the right future for all of us. We must divest from fossil fuels and invest in the transition to a 100 percent clean energy future. We must implement the Clean Power Plan to its fullest extent and beyond. And as world leaders prepare to travel to Paris this December for the United Nations conference on climate change, we must add to the demand for a bold agreement and then hold governments accountable for their commitments.
To rally urban communities and the U.S. public at large in major support of this action, the Hip Hop Caucus is working with allies like 350.org, LCV, NRDC, Earthjustice, Solutions Project and Sierra Club as well as top music artists such as Common, Antonique Smith, Dee 1, Crystal Waters and Malik Yusef to launch the People's Climate Music “Act on Climate" National Bus Tour. This month-long run of concerts, meetings, community events and on-the-ground toxic tours will reach more than a dozen U.S. cities with music and messages that inspire climate change awareness and action, giving a voice to those who cannot be heard.
Photo credit: Hip Hop Caucus
We kick the tour off in New Orleans this Saturday on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to remember the past and fight for the future. We'll join together in beautiful music, thoughtful discussion and a spirit of advocacy in:
- New Orleans—Aug. 29
- Ferguson, Mo.—Sept. 2
- Chicago—Sept. 3
- Detroit—Sept. 4
- Philadelphia—Sept. 5-6
- Portland, Maine—Sept. 9
- New York City—Sept. 10
- Hampton and Newport News, Va.—Sept. 11
- Charlotte, N.C.—Sept. 12
- Charleston, S.C.—Sept. 13
- Atlanta—Sept. 14
- Birmingham, Ala.—Sept. 15
- Washington, DC—Sept. 16-18
- Brooklyn, N.Y.—Sept. 19-20
- New York—Sept. 21
- Baltimore, Md.—Sept. 21-22
- Washington, D.C.—Sept. 23-24
- Tempe, Ariz.—Sept. 26-27
To catch the announcement of the People's Climate Music “Act on Climate" National Bus Tour and updates on tour activities, follow Hip Hop Caucus on Twitter.
As Saturday approaches and we remember Hurricane Katrina, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the lives lost, my encouragement to the families still suffering, and my call to global leaders and U.S. citizens of all backgrounds to join the fight against the injustices caused by the fossil fuel industry. We can solve this in our generation, for all future generations. The time is now and I hope you'll join me.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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