During the opening months of 2021 amidst the continued calls for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, the political floodgates opened to those finally focused on flooding in coastal cultural heritage communities and how the negative impacts of it are compounded by the United States FEMA policies. “The Hill” headlined an article, “Tell FEMA Not to Push Gullah/Geechees Off Their Land” which helped amplify the issue that the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition has been engaged in combating for years.
“2020 was marked by unprecedented disasters—from a record-breaking hurricane season to the COVID-19 pandemic—with historically underserved communities hit the hardest. Each flood or disaster takes an economic toll on families and businesses and exposes the population to health hazards, often with disproportionate and lasting damage for underserved communities and communities of color in particular. Given the challenges that these communities face in accessing resources for recovery, disasters heighten existing inequities. Policymakers have a crucial role to play in addressing these inequities. By elevating the voices of historically underserved populations and the community-based organizations (CBOs) that represent them, policymakers can develop equitable disaster policy that works for those who need it the most.
Because equitable policy starts with elevating community voices, the American Flood Coalition and the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management convened a roundtable series with the leaders of eight CBOs, each representing a historically underserved community affected by flooding. Over the course of three discussion-based sessions and a series of surveys in October and November 2020, the participants shared their experiences and recommendations for equitable flood policy at the federal level. In the final session, Congressional staff and federal agency officials working on these issues heard directly from CBO participants and discussed ways to advance equity through federal policy.”