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Articles by Rachel Ramirez

Rachel Ramirez is an environmental justice fellow at Grist

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Before Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm, meteorologists warned that it would hit industrial coastal cities like Port Arthur, Texas, especially hard. Public officials along the Texas-Louisiana border urged residents to move out of the storm’s path. But for Port Arthur’s low-income communities of color, the choice was difficult: They could either brave the storm at home, exposing themselves to air pollution from surrounding oil and gas refineries in the process, or else risk exposure to COVID-19 on crowded buses.

For Hilton Kelley, a longtime Port Arthur resident and outspoken environmental advocate, it was tough to leave his community behind — but he also needed to get his family to safety.

“We stayed right up until there was no other preparation left to do,” he told Grist. “I wanted to stay…. but my wife wouldn’t leave without me, and we wanted to make sure the grandchildren were safe as well.”

Hurricane Laura’s trajectory ended up shifting east of its original path, battering the southwest region of Louisiana Thursday morning. Its 130-mph gusts flattened homes and buildings, toppled large vehicles, knocked out trees, left residents withou... Read more

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