Gregory D. Squires

Gregory D. Squires is a professor of sociology and public policy at George Washington University. He is co-editor, with Chester Hartman, of There is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class, and Hurricane Katrina.

Recent Articles

Harvey Is Not a Natural Disaster

Much of Harvey’s devastation could have been avoided with an eye to how communities grow in hurricane-prone areas—and how they respond to the overwhelming needs of their most disadvantaged residents.

(Kim Brent/The Beaumont Enterprise via AP)
It is long past time to stop calling events like Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, and now Harvey and Irma, natural disasters. There is no such thing. These may be natural events. But many of the costs of recovery—and who pays those costs—are the results of decisions people make. There is nothing natural about the catastrophic consequences of these choices. Planning (or the lack thereof), underfunding the nation’s infrastructure, and a wide range of public policies and private practices that concentrate low-income and non-white families in vulnerable communities are just a few of the “unnatural” factors that have shaped the events unfolding in Houston now. Twelve years ago, Americans saw those same unnatural factors on display in New Orleans and southern Louisiana. That Houston has experienced its third “500-year” flood in the past three years should tell Americans that something is amiss with such projections. Houston is not alone. Cedar Rapids,...