SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
Thick layers of smoke are blanketing the American West right now because of wildfires. More than 80 million people on the East Coast are under flash flood warnings. And just about a year ago, Hurricane Ida devastated much of the Louisiana coast. Virtually no part of the country seems immune to the effects of climate change. And the people who face the devastation – they live with it for years after disaster strikes. People like Benny and Tammy Alexie – Tammy, his wife, and their family lost almost everything to Hurricane Ida, including their home in a part of the bayou called Barataria, which was still flooded when we visited a month after Ida hit last year.
BENNY ALEXIE: What made New Orleans is the seafood that’s cooked in it, which comes from the bayou people down south.
MCCAMMON: Benny has been a fisherman for 41 years. He primarily catches shrimp. They’ve been living in a FEMA trailer for about six months now.
B ALEXIE: It is three-bedroom, but the bedrooms are really small. But it’s manageable, you know?
MCCAMMON: Five of them live in the trailer permanently. And some of the days of the week, it’s seven people, including two grandchildren.
TAMMY ALEXIE: One is 7, and the other one is 2.
MCCAMMON: And how do you keep them busy in that space?
T ALEXIE: They have toys. We kind of, like, walk over toys all the time. But we just play, and we do a lot of puzzles and games together. We draw.
MCCAMMON: Her grandson is in school now, but the local elementary school was severely damaged by the hurricane. So he takes the bus an hour and a half each day to a nearby town.
T ALEXIE: It’s hard. It’s hard. It’s not always air conditioned or things like that. Like, what’s bad is my grandson – he gets carsick. So the hour and a half is very hard for him. And it’s kind of scary because it’s a high school. So they putting all these little kids, you know, in with these middle, high. And they’re adapting. They’re adapt. We were just hoping they would have a more permanent situation by now. But they don’t.
MCCAMMON: Immediately after the hurricane, Benny was sure he wanted to stay and rebuild and train his son to take over the family fishing business. Tammy was more uncertain, and that still hasn’t changed.
T ALEXIE: I mean, we’re very grateful to not have lost the boat through this because this is our livelihood. But we’re struggling – our lives, our house, trying to sell the shrimp – to make money to stay …….