I-DIEM’s Chauncia Willis responds to Texas’ winter storm – USA Today

As millions of Texans grapple with the aftermath of a deadly winter storm, people of color and low-income communities who were disproportionately affected by blackouts and burst pipes could now face the hardest journey to recovery, experts said.

The historic winter weather exacerbated pre-existing disparities like poor infrastructure and lack of resources in marginalized communities. Black and Latino communities who were disproportionately hit by COVID-19 now must struggle to recover from one of the worst weather events to ever hit Texas. And previous disaster response failures indicate the situation may get worse as the state thaws out.

“What you will see, as with COVID-19 and with any disaster, is disproportionate death and negative impacts for those who are most vulnerable among us,” said Chauncia Willis, chief executive of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, an Atlanta-based non-profit focused on emergency management and racial justice. “These inequities are easily identifiable before disaster and, of course, they’re rooted in systemic bias, racism and the country’s anti-poverty mindset.” Lower-income families may not be able to stock up on essentials ahead of the storm, have access to transportation in the event of an emergency or afford precautions like renters or flood insurance, leaving them vulnerable when disaster strikes, Willis said.

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