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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
Journalist
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Sunday, 21 October 2018

How Fires Affected Undocumented Migrants In California, And How The Community Responded

There's a climate change myth that is not only pervasive, but also so critically wrong that it must be pointed out at every chance. Like death, they say, climate change is the great equalizer. Flash floods and hurricanes, they say, will not make differences between the rich and the poor. Fire, they say, will burn the same through the mansions of the millionaires and the humble homes of the undocumented.

Quite the opposite, actually. Climate change will indeed exacerbate social differences and widen the social and economic gaps that plague most of our societies. That's something we've written about before on this platform. From sea-level rise to heat waves, the impacts of climate change are always harsher for the poor.

This 29-minute podcast explores the issue of climate inequality in the wake of the Tubbs fire, which ravaged southern California exactly one year ago. To do so, it looks at how the disaster affected one of the most disadvantaged communities in the area: undocumented migrants.

The podcast follows the stories of Pastor Al and Irma Garcia, two undocumented migrants from Coffey Park, a neighborhood in Santa Rosa (just do a quick search for Coffey Park on Google Images if you'd like to see the extent of the devastation). Both victims had to flee their homes in the middle of the night. Irma Garcia was unwelcome at a shelter. Pastor Al didn't even try to get into one.

This very well narrated story explores the different, and sometimes unexpected, ways a disaster affects the poor. For example, the burning of the affluent area of Fountain Grove, where many of them work as cleaners or caretakers, left them without work. Others involve mistrust in the authorities and lack of access to relief funds.

But the story has a hopeful twist. Among all this doom and gloom, the community responds, and what started as an effort to raise funds for the affected ends up with a lot more than just money.

How Fires Affected Undocumented Migrants In California, And How The Community Responded
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