“If you ever wondered what colonialism looks like, this is it. It’s a country that ignores a catastrophic disaster in its colony while people draw “SOS” signs on the street that they need water and food, yet responded with surprising agility to make sure they passed a law protecting Wall Street investors and their profits in the island.
It’s a President that tweets how “sad” it is that millions are starving, with no electricity or water and reminds them that it’s because they owe bankers billions of dollars, which they will need to repay (before aid is shipped?).
It’s an imperial power whose denial of climate change and undeterred capitalism contributed to the destruction of whole island nations and yet when calls of aid are demanded to respond for their crimes, silence.
Colonialism is not being able to control your borders, air space or ports so you can’t receive aid shipments from nearby countries wanting to help and show solidarity because your colonial power is MIA, except for their military planes which hover nearby to keep away other countries’ aid.
This is what colonialism looks like. This is what capitalism looks like. This is what climate change and our future looks like.”
when sending out prayers/good vibes/help for hurricane irma, PLEASE don’t forget about the islands. especially haiti, dominican republic, turks and cacos, the bahamas, and so many more. they don’t have millions of people backing them up simply because they aren’t the usa. please donate and send care packages because they won’t be able to bounce back or get immediate help after a devastating category 5, the largest category a hurricane can be, like the usa can.
More than a natural disaster: How Harvey and Irma put health care, immigrant communities, the environment, and more at risk
In the past few weeks, severe storms including Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across the southwest U.S., Mexico, and island territories including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean. Dozens of people perished, and many more were displaced from their homes. Some people’s lives will never be the same again.
The truth is that horrifying storms like Harvey and Irma — as well as the earthquake that shook Mexico — reveal the intersections of how natural disasters can impact access to health care, the environment, immigrant communities and folks with low incomes. Here’s how these crises are affecting real people, right now.
Natural disasters = heightened fear for undocumented communities
Donald Trump’s xenophobic plan to end DACA makes Hurricane Harvey even more dangerous for some folks. In Houston, the city with the third largest population of undocumented immigrants, Harvey forced many DACA recipients and mixed-status families to face difficult choices. Already anxious over Trump’s threats of deportation, undocumented people may be even more reluctant to seek out shelter and health care in Harvey’s wake, for fear of being turned away at shelters or facing hostile ICE agents.
The most vulnerable people at risk
Natural disasters affect people with low incomes the most. In Texas and Florida, folks with low incomes are more likely to live in flood-prone areas with deficient infrastructure. This means that evacuating and traveling to get medical assistance is much harder — especially for low-income people with disabilities. There’s an assumption that everyone can and should evacuate when natural disasters happen, but that’s not always possible for everyone. Not everyone can get time off of work, access resources to relocate their family, or find a place to stay.
And in Houston, many families with low incomes live near the city’s oil refineries and petrochemical plants — putting them at risk of contamination, leaks, explosions, and other hazards.
A threat against women’s health
We also can’t forget the danger that natural disasters pose for women. Because of the devastation brought on by Harvey and Irma, women looking for preventive or maternal care and women who need abortions might be blocked from getting help. What’s more, these women could be forced to travel in sometimes dangerous conditions to access the care they need, if they can at all.
In addition, Texas lawmakers have passed medically unnecessary restrictions that have led to health centers closing, jeopardizing women’s health even further. In parts of Texas, some abortion providers offered free safe, legal abortion for survivors of Harvey. But elsewhere, a lot of women don’t have this option.
And it gets worse
Folks with chronic conditions — such as diabetes, endometriosis, or chronic kidney disease — are also at risk. During evacuation, their medications can get lost or destroyed. With dialysis centers, pharmacies, and hospitals closed, there are fewer places for people to get care.
The environment suffers, too
Houston is home to America’s petroleum industry. Significant amounts of flooding spell disaster for those living near chemical factories — and the environment.
With dozens of chemical plants flooding and shutting down due to Harvey, more than one million pounds of toxic pollutants have been released into the air. A flooded factory outside of Houston burst into flames twice, leaking toxic chemicals and sending 15 people to the hospital.
And drinking water — which may have come in contact with sewage systems and contaminated with bacteria like E. coli — is unsafe to drink in some areas of Houston and Florida. Having safe, healthy environments and clean water is a basic human right, as well as an issue of reproductive rights. Mothers, for example, need clean water to prepare infant formula or to breastfeed their babies.
We stand in solidarity with those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma
The impact of these natural disasters is personal. Planned Parenthood is an essential health care provider in many of the communities hit hard by these disasters. Several organizations are coming to the aid of those affected by Harvey and Irma. Here’s how you can help:
Hit by: Hurricane Harvey
Volunteer with Planned Parenthood supporters in relief efforts. Already, more than 150 Planned Parenthood supporters assembled 4,000 period kits for Harvey victims in Houston.
Volunteer with Planned Parenthood and other coalition partners to help communities that are most vulnerable. Volunteer Anna Eskamani says, “I volunteered with this effort last night to pass out free food, and the Friday before Irma made landfall, I also volunteered with a homeless outreach group to let the homeless know of their shelter options.”