Nowhere to go in New Bern: Climate catastrophe spurs migrants in US South

Hurricane Florence ravaged North Carolina last fall. While cleanup continues and residents pick up the pieces of their life, many people in New Bern, a small community along the Neuse River in the eastern part of the state, have nothing to pick up. Homes have been destroyed and won't be rebuilt. Lives have been upended.


We visited New Bern to document the challenges of the community's most disenfranchised as public housing residents, along with other poor, disabled, elderly, and vulnerable people, are becoming a first wave of climate migrants in the U.S.—people selectively displaced by increasingly frequent storms and floods, moved because they can't afford to stay.

Their forced removal marks the sputtering end of a long effort to close down the project of government-subsidized housing in this country, leaving affordable housing to the so-called free market. And those that do stay face both psychological tolls and environmental toxins left in the storm's wake.

This is what a climate change catastrophe looks like.

Poor southerners are joining the globe's climate migrants

They put us in this "weird palliative care kind of situation, just waiting for it to die. And they're not providing any support for it while it's dying."


Lingering long after a storm, mold and mental health issues

North Carolinians are organizing against "toxic resiliency," focused on healing from trauma.


LISTEN: Visiting climate migrants in New Bern, North Carolina

"This is the worst storm I've ever endured."


Editor's note: This series is the result of a collaboration between EHN and Scalawag Magazine, an independent nonprofit magazine that covers the American South.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
Opening plenary at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Fort Collins, Colo., 2019. (Credit: Colorado State University)
Originals

30 years of being (almost always) right

It's an epic birth story that is, in all probability, also a true one.

Keep reading...
Opinion

Ocean plastic: How recycling creates tomorrow’s problems.

Sometimes plastic recycling is so much worse than just letting trash be trash.

Keep reading...
Originals

Op-ed: Trump's polluted policies leave children in bad air

Let the children suffocate. That is the vicious message from President Trump in his proposed budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency for fiscal year 2021.

Keep reading...
Youth Climate Strike in Santa Rosa, Calif., in March 2019. (Credit: Fabrice Florin/flickr)
Originals

Together, we make mud

The noted philosopher Rodney Dangerfield described his fictional marriage in a way that provides insight into the widening gulf in U.S. environmental politics: "She's a water sign. I'm an Earth sign. Together, we make mud."

Keep reading...
Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim/flickr
Originals

The I-told-you-so heard ‘round the world

When I'm in the checkout line at the grocery, the tabloids invariably catch my eye for a split second.

Keep reading...
Associate Justice William O. Douglas.
Originals

Before Gore, Greta, and the Green New Deal: Part Two

Let's start with an inveterate American treehugger named William O. Douglas.

Keep reading...
Deer hunters. (Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife)
Originals

Lead in hunted meat: Who’s telling hunters and their families?

Lead contamination in hunted meat has the potential to impact the health of millions of people in the U.S. who are connected to the hunting community, including low-income recipients of venison donations.

Keep reading...
From our Newsroom

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.