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08/29/2018 | Local Progress: A National Network of Progressive Local Elected Officials , Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond, Organizing for Environmental Justice

When Disaster Happens: A Policy Guide for Climate Resettlement

In the year since Hurricane Maria, residents in Puerto Rico have fought to rebuild, despite a shamefully inadequate federal response.

    At the same time, tens of thousands have left the island, with a large majority arriving in one of six states: Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These new arrivals will reshape the cultural, economic, and political landscape of the cities and states where they live.

    As they do so, they will need safe affordable housing, access to healthcare, education for their children, support in finding jobs, and other forms of assistance and support.

    It is clear that the Trump White House and the Republican-led Congress have no interest in meeting these needs, making it even more crucial that cities and states step up.

    This policy guide is the first to offer a detailed roadmap for how cities and states can address the immediate needs of their new Puerto Rican constituents. It is meant to serve as a constructive call to action for local and state governments.

    The devastation of Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey should also serve as a wake-up call to state and local officials across the country. While it is the residents of coastal and island communities who are on the front line of climate change, all communities will ultimately be affected as the global economy is rocked by disasters and millions of migrants move within and between countries in search of safety. Globally, the World Bank estimates that as many as 143 million people will be displaced by climate change in the next 30 years. It is the responsibility of every jurisdiction to have a plan in place to meet that challenge.