Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall on the Gulf of Mexico early this morning (June 22), and states including Louisiana and Texas are bracing for flooding. Small tornadoes dotted parts of the region too, as seen in this video posted to Twitter, with more still expected:
The area began to feel the storm’s effects Wednesday (June 21), and now it’s slowed down and weakened, but The Weather Channel reports that the biggest concern left is “potentially life-threatening flooding.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency yesterday for the state. “All arms of the state’s emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously,” said Edwards, in a press release. “And we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well.”
And this is true for not just Louisiana but for the region as a whole: The most recent National Climate Assessment, released in 2014, states that the Southeast and the Caribbean are “exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise.”
As the report makes clear, coastal tribal communities like Louisiana’s Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians will feel some of the strongest impacts from such extreme weather, which is exacerbated by climate change. Tribes will lose more land to sea level rise and storm surges that erode their already-dwindling land. And as floods take over their land, Native people find it more difficult to reach traditional fishing grounds and cultural sites. No tribe has publicly announced an impact from this storm, but Isle de Jean Charles, where another band of Native people lives, saw heavy amounts of rain in the past 48 hours.
It’s too soon to know what role climate change played, if any, in Tropical Storm Cindy. But studies, like the climate assessment, show that these types of storms will hit the South more frequently, as well as more dramatically.
Below, a look at what damage Tropical Storm Cindy has already done—by the numbers.
Number of people the storm is impacting
At least 17 million