National News Roundup – January 9, 2023
More Americans Moving to Wildfire Danger Zones
Study shows migration from hurricane areas to those at risk of wildfires.
A ten-year study of migration patterns, natural disasters, and climate change shows that Americans are moving away from many of the U.S. counties hit hardest by hurricanes—and moving toward dangerous wildfires and warmer temperatures.
“These findings are concerning, because people are moving into harm’s way—into regions with wildfires and rising temperatures, which are expected to become more extreme due to climate change,” said the University of Vermont (UVM) study lead author Mahalia Clark, noting that the study was inspired by the increasing number of headlines of record-breaking natural disasters. “Our goal was to understand how extreme weather is influencing [U.S. internal] migration as it becomes more severe with climate change,” Clark said.
The top U.S. migration destinations over the last decade were cities and suburbs in the Pacific Northwest, parts of the Southwest (in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah), Texas, Florida, and a large swath of the Southeast (from Nashville to Atlanta to Washington, D.C.)—locations that face significant wildfire risks and relatively warm annual temperatures. In contrast, people tended to move away from places in the Midwest, the Great Plains, and along the Mississippi River, including many counties hit hardest by hurricanes or frequent heatwaves, the researchers say.
The study identified several other clear preferences—a mix of environmental, social, and economic factors—that also contributed to U.S. migration decisions over the last decade. The team’s analysis revealed a set of common qualities shared among the top migration destinations: warmer winters, proximity to water, moderate tree cover, moderate population density, better human development index (HDI) scores—plus wildfire risks. HDI measures quality-of-life factors, such as life-expectancy, educational opportunities and standard of living. Massachusetts is ranked first. Michigan is 31st. Mississippi is last. For the counties people left, common traits included low employment, higher income inequality, and more summer humidity, heatwaves, and hurricanes.
Go here to read a press release and summary of the study.
Or you can view the full study here.
(Sources: Homeland Security Newswire, Frontiers in Human Dynamics, University of Vermont)
Court in TX Limits Governmental Immunity
El Paso cited the defense in case relating to a flooded residence.
A court in Texas has ruled there are limits to government immunity.
The City of El Paso, Texas, re-paved the street in front of Maria Torres’ home. The new road surface eliminated a slight peak or “crown” in the middle of the road which allowed for water runoff from the roadway. The crown of the road was inverted in the re-paving project. Subsequently, the Torres home was flooded almost any time it rained, regardless of the amount of rainfall.
Then a city water main broke near the Torres home and water rushed into the residence. Ms. Torres learned her home was flooded when she woke up the next morning and slipped and fell in water and mud which had invaded her home from the broken water main. She had fractures which required surgery.
An inspector reported that the slope of the re-surfaced street funneled water toward the Torres house. The City of El Paso tried to defend the case by citing government immunity. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled the city could have foreseen the consequences.
You can read or download the case here.
(Sources: Courthouse News Service, Justia)
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