Debris is seen inside the window of a house left along the valley after the flash flood at Pentagon, Regent town, Sierra Leone. President Donald Trump wrapped up his "working vacation" last week by firing top adviser Steve Bannon, a controversial figure who was seen as one of the president's most powerful influences. Many wondered how the White House would be different without the man many believe helped shape policies like the travel ban and the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Bannon headed back to Breitbart News, where he had been executive chairman before joining Trump's campaign. Trump, for his part, announced a shift in strategy in Afghanistan and went on to give two drastically different speeches in the course of 24 hours.
This story was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Barbara Herndon lay in the center of her bed, muscles tensed, eyes on the television. She was waiting for the storm. All morning on that day in late May, the news had covered the cold front slouching south from central Texas. She cringed at the noises, chest tightening, mind on the havoc that might follow--but ultimately didn't. Herndon, who as a child in southern Louisiana saw her share of hurricanes and thunderstorms, had never thought much about them. Now, even a passing squall like the May storm--lasting less than an hour--will panic the 70-year-old retiree. "I get scared," she said. "I cry a lot, easily. That didn't use to happen." Herndon is among the 50 percent of Houston-area residents who have wrestled with powerful or severe emotional distress since Hurricane Harvey deluged the city in 2017, according to a Rice University survey to be published Wednesday. Studies have shown similar outcomes with symptoms of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress following other hurricanes, floods and wildfires--natural disasters that are intensifying as climate change accelerates. Already, the U.S. has faced nearly 40 such events costing at least a billion dollars each in the past decade, more than any period previously recorded.
When Linda Yoon, a Korean American psychotherapist, heard about the Atlanta-area spa shootings two weeks ago, she braced for what would likely come next. After the killing of eight people, including six Asian women, she and the other therapists in her Los Angeles-area practice were virtually flooded with calls and emails from would-be clients. Ninety percent of them were Asian people mentioning the shooting or racial trauma. The calls came not just from L.A. or across California, but also from Alabama, Kansas and even Georgia, with desperate requests for an Asian therapist who could help them cope. Since she started the Yellow Chair Collective with a partner in 2019, the out-of-state inquiries were not new for Yoon.
I don't know if my struggle with anxiety began before or after a police officer shouted "Keep your hands where I can see them!" as he pulled alongside my parked car. I only know that the following months were filled with sleepless nights, including many spent replaying every sound from the incident: the whoop of the siren--shrieking as it spun in red flashes; the slam of the police car door as the officer approached my window; and the bark of his criminalizing question, "What are you doing in this neighborhood?" Just when I thought my restless routine was done after so many weeks, I'd close my eyes and see four angry furrows etched into the officer's forehead. Then, I'd feel sweat drip down mine as I recalled the way his fingers trailed his belt--inching closer to his pistol grip as he waited for my trembling reply: "I live here, officer. I live right across the street."