Saturday, October 21, 2017

'Katrina brain': The invisible long-term toll of megastorms (and other disasters)

Brandi Wagner pulls out the medications she must take on a daily basis to control a range of storm-related disorders

NEW ORLEANS — Brandi Wagner thought she had survived Hurricane Katrina. She hung tough while the storm’s 125-mph winds pummeled her home, and powered through two months of sleeping in a sweltering camper outside the city with her boyfriend’s mother. It was later, after the storm waters had receded and Wagner went back to New Orleans to rebuild her home and her life that she fell apart…

…Climate change experts agree. To avoid increasing loss of lives from the mega storms expected in the decades ahead, large coastal populations should relocate, researchers say. Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, recently found that a predicted 6-foot rise in sea levels by 2100 would put 13 million people in more than 300 U.S. coastal counties at risk of major flooding.

But relocating large populations has its own risks. For the hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents who rebuilt their lives far from home after Katrina, the loss of social ties and the stress of adapting to new surroundings also took a heavy psychological toll, according to recent research at the University of California.

There’s another problem with relocating people from coastal regions. It’s not just hurricanes that are expected to plague the planet as the climate shifts. Wildfires, droughts, inland flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters are also expected to increase in frequency and intensity, making it hard to find a safe place to put down new roots…

more: 'Katrina brain': The invisible long-term toll of megastorms

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