Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 10 Years After Katrina, Climate Displacement Remains Unaddressed
Press Release

RELEASE: 10 Years After Katrina, Climate Displacement Remains Unaddressed

Washington, D.C. — Ten years after the devastation that Hurricane Katrina inflicted on the Gulf Coast, the effects of climate displacement—when people are forced from their homes due to extreme weather—are still being felt. An estimated 1.5 million people fled from their homes in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Roughly 40 percent of them—disproportionately from Louisiana—had a difficult time returning. Most people were relocated to areas hundreds of miles away, and many were unable to return.

With the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in the coming weeks, the Center for American Progress has released an issue brief showing that Katrina victims are not alone. Extreme weather events caused by a changing climate have caused hundreds of thousands of people to be displaced from their homes, some never to return.

“Hurricane Katrina was the single largest climate displacement event in American history. It caused more than 1 million people to leave their homes, thousands of whom have not returned 10 years later,” said Danielle Baussan, CAP Managing Director of Energy Policy and author of the paper. “Hurricane Katrina was a singularly devastating event, but climate displacement is happening on a smaller scale every year. Droughts, floods, and extreme storms have all forced people from their homes in the years since Katrina. As climate events increase in intensity and frequency, the challenge of preventing and supporting displaced communities only continues.”

The paper makes recommendations to ease the burden of climate displacement and make it less difficult for those affected to return to their homes. These recommendations range from support for more climate resilient communities to prevent climate displacement from occurring in the first place to better home repair programs to enable people to rebuild their homes and return to their communities that much faster. Another recommendation is to provide voluntary buyout programs for properties in vulnerable coastal areas in order to return those areas to a natural state, creating buffer zones against the kind of flooding that wreaked havoc on shorelines during Superstorm Sandy.

Click here to read the paper.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.