Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

Atlantic Hurricane Season Crisis Response

Supporting Gulf Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Laura.

Hurricane Laura made landfall in the Gulf Coast on August 27 as one of the strongest storms to hit the United States, striking one of the epicenters of the petro-chemical industry and taking the lives of more than a dozen people while causing greater than $8 billion in damage. Homes were lost, infrastructure such as power grids and water systems were damaged, toxic chemicals polluted the air, and an incalculable number of families have been uprooted and displaced in the wake of the storm.

As with any disaster, whether created by humans or nature, Hurricane Laura has highlighted the social and economic disparities and injustices that already characterize the lives of many of those living along the Gulf Coast. We know from experience in the region that communities of color, undocumented immigrants, low income communities, people with disabilities, seniors, and the housing insecure—all facing injustice prior to the storm—will experience tremendous hardships and violations of their rights when attempting to access aid, rebuilding homes, and engaging in long-term recovery projects.

UUSC works with communities at the frontline of the climate crisis in the Gulf Coast who have weathered storms before and are already working together across state lines for an equitable relief and recovery effort. We are raising funds to deploy resources into the Gulf Coast area to serve current partners we have in the region (see sidebar) and potentially develop new partnerships with organizations directly supporting the communities living at the intersection of pre- and post-disaster injustice.

Our approach will be three-fold:

    1. Partnerships: Supporting new and existing partners to provide a regional approach to address the impact of Hurricane Laura as well as future storms.
    2. Programs: Providing financial resources to partners working with directly impacted communities, offering rights-based research support, mobilizing members to work in coalition with grassroots partners when appropriate, and supporting the efforts of our partners in creating disaster preparedness and response policies and programs to address future disasters.
    3. Practices: Supporting efforts to hold governments, corporations, and other interests accountable in disaster recovery and prevention models in the future; we hope to ensure that we dismantle and reimagine disaster preparedness, response, and recovery through a lens that prioritizes the needs of all rather than the needs of a few.

To learn more about our approach to impact, click here.

Kristina Peterson, from UUSC’s partner, The Lowlander Center, expressed her concern about the need for justice for communities after the storm.

“What we are most concerned about in the aftermath of the storm is the exploitation of communities of color—undocumented LatinX, Indigenous, African American, and Vietnamese—by corporations, government, and opportunistic individuals. We are working proactively to ensure that communities know their rights, that corporations responsible for the toxic chemical exposure are held accountable, and that immediate needs are met.”

To make a donation to the Gulf Coast relief effort, click here.

***

Photo Credit: Getty Images