Environmental journalists have a new beat: Coping with climate disaster
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Poynter.org.
As Hurricane Sandy bore down on the Connecticut coast late October of 2012 and Gov. Dannel Malloy pled with residents to find high ground, reporter Neena Satija couldn’t shake one thought: “We are clearly not prepared for this."
Sandy passed, and sheer luck spared the state the worst of its impacts. But did officials acknowledge the averted disaster? Not in Satija's view. “All of a sudden talk about vulnerability was over,” she recalled. “No one wanted to talk about what could have happened.”
So Satija took up the task herself. Then a reporter for the Connecticut Mirror and Connecticut Public Radio, she produced award-winning reporting on shoreline vulnerability as public housing residents nervously awaited the next storm.
But, as Satija later learned, the story of disaster sidestepped then forgotten is far from unique. In 2013, after moving to Texas to become an investigative reporter and radio producer for The Texas Tribune and Reveal, she heard nearly the same story about 2008’s Hurricane Ike.
Although Ike was the third most costly hurricane to hit the United States after Sandy and Katrina, little official action had been taken in its wake to ensure the state was ready for another big hurricane.
Again, Satija and her team dug into the story, this time in partnership with ProPublica. Hell and High Water, published in March, revealed that Texas remains unprepared for a major storm that could leave thousands dead and cripple Houston’s massive petrochemical industry.
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