Hurricanes kicked off a vicious cycle of disaster capitalism and homelessness in Louisiana

Hurricanes Tipped Off ‘Vicious Cycle’ Of Homelessness In Louisiana: Residents of Southwest Louisiana continue to endure the turmoil set off by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, and rooted in systemic inequities and exacerbated by the fossil fuel industry, Southerly reports. “People who are poorer than they were six months ago are expected to spend more on housing than they did six months ago,” said Bill Quigley, a civil rights attorney and professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. “It’s just a vicious cycle for folks.” The region already faced an affordable housing crisis made worse by the gas boom over the last decade. After the storms, landlords used loopholes to kick out tenants despite a national eviction moratorium, or simply evicted them illegally. Now, amidst massive job losses fueled by the storms and the raging coronavirus pandemic, Lake Charles residents like Sasha Miller and her five-year-old daughter are caught in a tightening vise-set-on-spin-cycle of joblessness, homelessness, and COVID-19 exposure — all of which is made more stressful by a hard-to-navigate web of FEMA assistance processes. After months of tumult, including at least one point at which she called a suicide crisis hotline, Miller and her daughter now live in a two-bedroom trailer with 11 other people and an unknown timeline for returning to their old apartment. “I just hope it doesn’t get more stressful,” she said. Last week, electricity in Lake Charles abruptly shut off as temperatures plummeted to 14°F. (Southerly Mag; Cold: Earther; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes, 2020 Atlantic hurricane season)

Texas Power Restored, Full Costs Of Failure Growing But Still Unknown: Electricity has been restored across Texas and the Gulf, and the impacts of the nearly weeklong blackouts caused by the state’s failure to prepare its grid for winter weather are beginning to come into focus. Around 70 deaths, so far, have been linked to the crisis, according to the AP. The total number likely won’t be known for weeks. Customers whose power stayed on are facing a different crisis — astronomical electricity bills. Many of those, like Scott Willoughby who got a $16,752 bill, were Griddy customers who paid wholesale prices that can fluctuate wildly in times of crisis. On Sunday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) halted power disconnections due to non-payments. Oil refineries, shut down by the cold, also released tons of toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere. Along with pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, these facilities are spewing four times as much pollution as they were before the cold snap. (Power restored: Texas Tribune, Houston Chronicle; Deaths and death toll: AP, Texas Tribune, New York Times $; Electricity prices: New York Times $, Dallas Morning News, NBC, The Hill, The Verge, Houston Chronicle, NPR; Disconnections: CBS DFW, Texas Tribune; Pollution: Earther, Reuters)