At least five people are dead and tens of thousands of people across California are under evacuation orders as yet another massive atmospheric river, the 12th since December, pummeled California. The so-called parade of storms has overwhelmed California’s water management capacity, setting off widespread flooding. The massive, hurricane-like storm also brought winds as high as 70 mph with gusts in some places over 100 mph. The repeated, heavy precipitation this year has taken an especially heavy toll on farmworkers. The overwhelming majority of farmworkers are undocumented, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by employers and unable to access social safety nets — vulnerabilities compounded by the lost work and housing threats caused by the storms.
“There’s these double whammies,” Amy Liebman, chief program officer at the Migrant Clinicians Network, told Axios. “From being low-wage workers with fewer protections … and then also when you look at housing, sometimes that’s directly tied to your employer … it’s like your livelihood, your housing, all of this stuff becomes at risk” (ellipses original). (Atmospheric river: Reuters, Axios, Gizmodo, Reuters, CNN, LA Times $; hurricane resemblance: Washington Post $; Farmworkers: Axios; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase)