Over 110,000 Puerto Rican utility customers were still without power Tuesday morning, more than two weeks after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to the entire territory. The Predominantly Black community in the Dunbar neighborhood of Fort Myers, Florida, is also without power, but — not-unlike Puerto Rico — its devastation has been largely overshadowed by media attention to the damage done by Hurricane Ian’s to whiter and wealthier communities including Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach.
“They’re saying the islands got destroyed,” 24 year-old Lexxus Cherry told NPR. “Well, we’re destroyed, too. We’re really messed up here.” Florida Power and Light is boasting its pre-storm preparation has limited the storm’s damage and says electricity will be restored soon, but when people from Dunbar ask for more information, they only get vague promises.
“This is a common thing that I’m seeing in cities around America. Whenever a disaster happens, for some reason the city is slow to respond to people in ethnic communities, in low-income communities,” Ta’Wan Grant told NPR. “We are the ones who need the most help.” FPL says restoring electricity can only come after floodwaters recede, which means low-income communities of color are likely to wait longer as systemic racism and climate gentrification have pushed them into more flood-prone locations, a trend likely to worsen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. (Dunbar: NPR; FPL: E&E News, Utility Dive, Politico Pro $; Gentrification and inequity: E&E News)