About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

14 J. Animal & Env't L. 83 (2022-2023)
When Disaster Strikes: An Analysis of the Widening Socioeconomic Disparities Caused by Federal Relief Efforts

handle is hein.journals/jael14 and id is 177 raw text is: 

   Gabriella  Wirasakti


       Climate change is constantly escalating the severity, duration, and intensity
of natural disasters.1 It is becoming increasingly costly to mitigate the damage
caused by these disasters each year. Natural catastrophe losses in the United States
rose to an unprecedented $133 billion in 2020, due to Hurricanes Harvey, Maria,
and Irma and the wildfires on the West Coast, a statistic that does not include the
high death and monetary losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.2
       Further, fewer than 20 percent of U.S. counties experienced a disaster each
year in the early and mid-20th century, but today is about 50 percent.3 As disasters
become  more common,  the economic and racial disparities of federal disaster aid
are becoming more apparent. Countless stories are being told of low-income and
minority families struggling to rebuild their lives after suffering through a major
disaster while their white and affluent counterparts recover quickly and often come
out of a disaster better than before.
       One such disparity is evident in the journeys of two families after Hurricane
Harvey flooded the city of Houston. The Papadopoulos and Evans families were
two of the many families that had to evacuate their homes. A year after the disaster,
the Papadopoulos family, a white and affluent household, was financially stable.4
They received $30,000 in federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency  (FEMA)   and $100,000  in refunded taxes from the Internal Revenue
Service.5 It was a starkly different story for the Evans family, consisting of a black
mother and her three children. FEMA only gave the Evans family $2,500 in aid

' Rebecca Hersher and Robert Benincasa, How Federal Disaster Money Favors The Rich, NPR
(Mar. 5, 2019), https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/688786177/how-federal-disaster-money-favors-
2 2021 natural catastrophes, INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE, https://www.iii.org/fact-
se%20to%20an,from%20%2439.6%20billion%20in%202019 (last visited Jan. 20, 2022). A
catastrophe is defined as a natural event that causes $25 million or more in insured property losses,
or 10 deaths; or 50 people injured; or 2,000 filed claims or homes and structures damaged.
3 Hersher, supra note 1.
4 Id.
5 Id.


JAEL,   Vol. 14, No. 2


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most