Multiple new reports continue to reveal how historically excluded groups were hurt by systemic inequities exacerbated by Hurricane Ida. Entergy, the utility that supplies electricity to much of southeastern Louisiana, raked in a record $1.4 billion profit in 2020 but has for years resisted calls to prepare its infrastructure for a storm like Ida, an NPR and ProPublica investigation revealed. When that infrastructure failed, plunging all of New Orleans and much of the surrounding area into the dark — thousands are still without power — residents like Wilma Banks were left stranded and literally suffocating without power for critical medical equipment.
Incarcerated individuals were also left exceptionally vulnerable as the state, routinely battered by hurricanes, has no statewide guidelines for protecting them during disasters. Those included the more than 300 people left in the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center in St. Charles Parish through the storm despite the parish being under a mandatory evacuation order.
Indigenous communities are also on the front lines of the climate crisis, and none more so than the United Houma Nation, which was pummeled by Ida and is still fighting a 35+ year battle for federal recognition, in what is now southeast Louisiana. “We have land that’s washing away every day. We’re running out of land in our area for our people to run to,” August Creppel, the principal chief of the United Houma Nation, told Vice. “With federal recognition, we would’ve had federal people on the ground right away helping us out. Ninety percent of the stuff we get, we have to get it ourselves.” (Entergy failures: NPR and ProPublica; Continued outages: WDSU; Incarcerated people: Grist; United Houma Nation: Vice; Climate Signals background: 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season)