A tiny Florida beach town is rebuilding after a hurricane. Is it becoming a preserve of the rich? And what it says about global warming?
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the small town of Seaside began to change. The local mayor, Ray Kiedis, ordered flags to be flown from the local courthouse and the town council voted to raise taxes on the wealthy. Many people left, but the town still thrived.
Kiedis, in a way, is a living example of the paradox of global warming: small and remote places, where people are relatively unaffected by the effects of climate change, are also becoming more vulnerable to disasters. “People say, well, we used to be more resilient to hurricanes, but now we really are,” says Kiedis. “But there’s no correlation between being resilient and being wealthy.”
A lot of people think that only coastal communities are affected by global warming, but in fact, the effects are felt in many parts of the world. And while many people think of global warming’s effects on sea levels and extreme weather events, Kiedis believes that the effects of climate change on places like Seaside, along with other small, rural coastal communities around the world, could be more profound than people expect.
“People don’t know how devastating these storms can be, but because they don’t hear about it, they become complacent,” he says. “What if this happens to you?”
In the US alone, more than 100,000 homes have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, which was the costliest US disaster in history at $75bn. And while the town of Seaside has rebuilt and prospered, many other small towns in Florida and the US that were damaged by Hurricane Michael are rebuilding too.
But if the effects of global warming are being felt in more rural parts of the world, perhaps it is not surprising that Kiedis and other people now living along the Gulf Coast worry that their small communities might follow