Hurricane Ian battered the coast of western Florida on Wednesday for hours, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, dumping between 12 and 30 inches of rain across the state, causing death and widespread destruction in its wake, including leaving over 2.7 million people without power as the above-ground electrical grid has been torn apart by high winds.
Ian quickly intensified upon entering the Gulf of Mexico. Rapid intensification is common for major storms of recent years, seen in Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020, and again with Hurricane Ida in 2021. We know that the fossil-fuel driven greed of capitalism, which prioritizes financial growth at all costs, is not only causing and accelerating these ecological disasters, as hotter sea temperatures and a warmer atmosphere create ever more intense weather systems, but also causing the communities in its path to be less resistant to the worst of these storms’ effects. Our communities lack the resources, support systems, and resilient infrastructure to withstand these types of disasters, and our public disaster response system is inadequate. For generations, capitalists have defunded our communities using scarcity economics, leaving us with the bare minimum in terms of public services. Instead, they use their profits to sustain a dirty extractive economy based on the exploitation of the environment and of workers here in the US and in the Global South, all so they can continue to get richer while the rest of us drown.
All too often, politicians and reactionaries blame working class people for not evacuating or for not being prepared for a “natural disaster,” but the truth is that disasters are political phenomena and a crisis of this scale does not warrant an individual response but a mass organized response. Disaster after disaster, our public institutions — designed under capitalism to protect property, capital holdings, and the specific needs of the ruling class — continue to fall short, and the burdens of the climate crisis fall squarely on the backs of the multiracial working class. We don’t have to look very far into the past to find examples. Just this month in Puerto Rico, 100% of the island lost electricity before Hurricane Fiona even made landfall, all due to LUMA Energy, a privately-owned energy company, funneling taxpayer money into their pockets instead of solidifying needed infrastructure after the devastating 2017 Hurricane Maria.
We cannot continue to let this happen — lives are being lost and communities destroyed because capitalism cannot and will not solve the climate crisis. Instead we must fight for and build climate-resilient communities of care that serve the many, not the wealthy few.
Ways that you can take action:
- If you are a union member in the affected and nearby areas, talk with your union siblings about opening your union halls to become supply hubs and organize supply collection and distribution. If you’re a union member outside Ian’s path, consider organizing a supply drive or using your union’s organized resources to help move needed goods to volunteers on the ground for distribution. If your DSA chapter has relationships with nearby unions, you may be able to help coordinate these efforts. If you don’t, this is a great opportunity to build them.
- If you are close enough to travel into the affected areas, consider planning a trip to help with on-the-ground volunteering. Crews will be needed for many months, assisting with both skilled tasks (construction, plumbing, etc.) as well as more basic ones (distributing donated items, serving food). Chapters who are able to put together pods or crews should consider doing so to cut down on travel costs and maximize efficiency and efficacy. Volunteers will also be needed in both the short and long term to help remotely from anywhere in the United States, doing tasks like wellness checks via telephone, tracking donations and supply lines via spreadsheet, monitoring social media to create lists of where hot meals are being served and then distributing them, and much more. Sign up to help here!
- Organize in your communities to build climate resilient infrastructure. DSA Chapters can sign up to attend a workshop to run Green New Deal strategic campaigns in their regions. With significant new federal funds entering local communities as part of pandemic recovery legislation, it’s crucial that we hold our local electeds to account and demand that the money be spent in ways that are sustainable for both our working communities and for the planet.