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Local community transforms city following 'relentless disasters': 'We have to do this together'

"We're really learning the value of building coalitions."

"We're really learning the value of building coalitions."

Photo Credit: iStock

Mississippi Rising Coalition is bringing people together as it supports community members who are vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather

As detailed by Yale Climate Connections, the organization got involved in recovery efforts after a series of "relentless disasters" began rolling through the region in 2016.

This ultimately led to the development of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Mutual Aid Collective, a group of individuals, grassroots groups, and organizations focused on climate education, disaster preparation and response, and the support of at-risk communities. 

According to Mississippi Rising, the collective was formed in 2020 near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to help locals meet their basic needs and parse through misinformation. It focused on climate resilience as well. 

"We also knew that the existing government and disaster recovery system functions in a way that often leaves wealthier communities better off after a disaster, while low-income communities are often displaced or left in worse condition," the collective says on its website.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the changing climate could continue to wreak havoc on Mississippi and its economy as flooding and droughts become more frequent and severe. Parts of the state are also susceptible to inland flooding because of the Mississippi River, while rising sea levels threaten coastal areas. 

Hurricanes, tropical storms, dangerous heat, and tornadoes are among the damaging extreme weather events that have battered the state, damaging property, causing injuries, and, at times, leaving residents without drinking water. 

That's where the collective has stepped in to help. Trained volunteers are able to quickly step in to work with FEMA and the Red Cross, according to Yale Climate Connections

Following Hurricane Ida in 2021, the organization coordinated with its partners to deliver cash, cleaning, and hygiene supplies to vulnerable communities. The collective also assisted recovery efforts after a 2020 winter ice storm, the 2022 Jackson water crisis, and 2023 tornadoes in Delta, North Mississippi, and Moss Point. 

Additionally, Yale Climate Connections reported that the collective has been involved in getting air purifiers to people disproportionately impacted by harmful air pollution and supported heat mapping to help communities prepare to stay safe in hot summer weather

"We're really learning the value of building coalitions, building networks, and sharing resources because we know we have to do this together," Mississippi Rising founding president Lea Campbell told the online platform. 

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