Houston, TX

Future Hurricanes Could Destroy American Cities

Matt Lillywhite

Future hurricanes around the United States could cause extreme flooding, oil spills, and other natural disasters that could render an area uninhabitable for several years.

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Photo via NOAA

Torrential rain and wind frequently cause catastrophic damage in Houston, Miami, New Orleans, and several other places during a hurricane. And while those cities have always recovered in the past, that might not be the case in the future. The reason? Many experts are concerned about future hurricanes having enough power to render cities uninhabitable.

According to Terence O'Rourke, an environmental attorney and hydrology expert with the Harris County Attorney's Office, future hurricanes may displace thousands (if not millions) of people while rendering vast swaths of Texas uninhabitable. After all, shipping containers could get swept up by the wind and slam into chemical and oil storage tanks.

"There are thousands of chemical tanks and many refineries with products that are so poisonous, so volatile, and so explosive that the result of this could be the greatest environmental disaster in the history of the planet," O'Rourke said. "Downtown Houston could be flooded with deadly chemicals, entire communities could be displaced, and Galveston Bay would go from the vibrant ecological system that it is to something catastrophic—a giant toxic pond."

A similar situation could happen in New Orleans. Its geographical location makes it highly vulnerable to natural disasters. And since some parts of the city are below sea level, flooding and storm surges caused by an intense hurricane could render the area uninhabitable while killing thousands of people in the process. Quoting the historian, John Barry:

"If nothing is done, in the next 15 years, another 300 to 500 square miles of Louisiana will disappear. And loss will continue after that, turning New Orleans into a potential Atlantis with walls of levees holding back the sea."

Meanwhile, in Miami, a future hurricane could devastate the entire state and push the economy to the brink of collapse. Quoting an article published by Vice News:

"Floridians will flee the impending hurricane, emptying neighborhoods and clogging freeways. Some will stay in their homes, confident this hurricane will be no worse than previous years' storms, while a smaller minority might be persuaded by far-right talk show hosts the whole thing is a left-wing conspiracy. But entire swathes of the state will be destroyed. People will die. But what might come next will be even more shocking. The storm's financial aftermath could spiral outwards from Florida, creating conditions that inevitably draw comparisons to the 2008 Wall Street crash."

Stronger hurricanes are becoming more frequent. The reason? Rising ocean temperatures give them more momentum and energy to destroy urban centers and devastate people's livelihoods. And unless we take action to address the catastrophic impact of climate change on American cities, the destruction of urban areas will be inevitable.

Are you concerned about tropical storms and hurricanes? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media.

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