Q&A: Hurricane prep with the National Weather Service

Southerly’s disaster preparedness and recovery reporter Amal Ahmed interviewed Janae Elkins at the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss. about the upcoming hurricane season, which officially starts on June 1. This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2022 forecast and predicts that we’ll see an above...

The grassroots groups filling major gaps in disaster prep, recovery

Hurricane season begins on June 1, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a strong likelihood that the next seven months will bring an above-average number of tropical storms and hurricanes. According to NOAA, it’s the seventh consecutive above-normal season. As ocean waters warm due to human-caused climate...

Voter guides: Southern state primaries

With primaries coming up in a number of Southern states, many key issues are hanging in the balance. For instance, on North Carolina’s primary ballot on May 17, residents will vote for candidates who will run for Republican incumbent U.S. senator Richard Burr’s seat, and several seats in the General Assembly, the state’s legislature. These decisions will have major effects on climate action in the state, major energy and infrastructure projects, and potential political redistricting.

Disaster glossary: Terms you should know

During and after a natural disaster, people are left to navigate confusing and difficult human-made systems: Emergency management. FEMA. Public assistance grants. HUD. CDBG-DR. Transitional sheltering. Small Business Administration. These systems are even more complex for renters, low-income people, tribal nations, and others often excluded from traditional aid processes. Information...

Our new digital engagement editor

Southerly is excited to welcome our new digital engagement editor, Tajah McQueen. Originally from New York, Tajah is fully rooted in Louisville, Ken. Her work both in and out of the office has centered around community and engagement. Tajah previously worked with Ohio Valley ReSource sharing news stories and connecting with listeners, and as a digital engagement manager at Kentucky-based creative marketing agency Cornett.

Disaster management is a key tool for climate adaptation

In the nearly three decades that Juan Ortiz has worked in emergency management, he’s seen it all: Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, even chemical disasters. But lately, they’ve been more frequent and severe. “We went from a period where, in 10 years, you had maybe one or two disasters,” said Ortiz, now the City of Austin’s director of emergency management. “The last eight years, we’ve had seven. And some years, we’ve had two or three disasters occurring at the same time.”

Here’s how disaster declarations work—and why aid takes so long

Last year, 58 major natural disasters hit the United States. Twenty-one of those disasters caused $1 billion or more in damage, making 2021 the third costliest year for natural disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year’s were also the deadliest since 2011. Nearly half of...

We’re hiring a digital engagement editor

Southerly is looking for a digital engagement editor to manage products and systems related to growing and deepening online engagement with our audience and community. This work will focus on information access projects and stories about the three main topics we cover: disaster aid and recovery, infrastructure, and pollution and public health. You’ll work with the executive editor to set strategy and drive metrics aligned to our organizational outcomes, be in charge of our social media channels, and share responsibility for our weekly newsletter.

Why we created a landfill guide for Bristol residents

Last November, I stood outside a Bristol, Va., apartment complex, watching Erica Nophlin squeeze a few more trash bags into the trunk of her already packed car. For two years, Nophlin and her two young daughters and cousin had regularly smelled noxious fumes from a malfunctioning landfill, both outside and inside their apartment. They experienced headaches, upset stomachs, and throat pain when the pollution was noticeable. By late 2021, Nophlin said, her home was unbearable. She decided to move her family across town.

How can media better serve the public during disasters?

Southerly is working on a project to assess the most urgent information needs around disaster aid in the U.S. South. We are currently surveying community members and launching a community advisory board to work with us to create and distribute offline and online resources. We are also looking to partner...

How to prepare for a winter storm

Nearly a year ago, the Deep South and Texas experienced a historic winter storm that caused millions of homes and businesses to lose electricity for days to weeks (one report revealed two out of three Texans lost power). Nearly 250 people died in Texas, including people ranging from under one year old to 102 years old, some from hypothermia, house fires, and carbon monoxide poisonings. The storm cost Texas up to $130 billion, and it revealed how fragile our power systems, disaster aid systems, and communication systems are. Still, not much has been done to address these problems on a larger scale.

Southerly looks different in 2022. Here’s why.

For three years, it’s been our mission to create journalism that you can trust about the U.S. South and its changing environment—stories that serve and empower people and offer indispensable information so they can live healthier, safer lives. It’s essential work, especially as we see more intense and frequent storms, drastically changing economies, and crumbling systems of every kind: disaster aid, housing, healthcare, infrastructure, information.

A group of moms stopped a crypto mine from building next to an N.C. school

These data processing centers are creating noise pollution in rural areas of the South. This story was done in partnership with Enlace Latino NC. Léalo en español. A few hundred yards from Belvoir Elementary School in Greenville, N.C., buds of cotton decay in a field where, in October, a sign alerted the community of plans to build a data processing center.