Grassroots responses to a changing climate

I was sitting in traffic while driving the family mini-van last week, contemplating the leap to a hybrid or electric car. Then I heard this story on “The Takeaway” with John Hockenberry….I need to get rid of this gas guzzler. Climate change is big and we are feeling the effects NOW. Good thing there are folks like Brad Redrick making things happen in their communities. Brad is collaborating with his neighbors to develop block based disaster preparedness plans.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore oversaw the evacuation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. That experience made him realize that the government won’t always get to people in time, which is why he’s now spending his time traveling around the country training people to be first responders for themselves and their neighbors.

“Only about 15 percent of Americans actually dedicate time to disaster preparedness,” says Honore. “If the predictions work over the next decade the way that scientists are talking, we’re going to face major disasters. Unfortunately, the people that are going to be most affected are the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.”

One person who heard the general’s message is Brad Redrick. Redrick lives on the south side of Chicago — an area that is predicted to face more intense rain events and floods in the next several years. He thinks his community is exactly the kind of place that might be left behind as climate change causes more natural disasters. So he’s been working to create a network of people in his neighborhood who can help support, or even save, each other.

“That’s what I’m learning now; just how to do this,” Redrick says. “It’s been very difficult. I’m surprised — it seems like people get bored and it’s hard to keep this exciting. Not being an official, I think they tend to listen to you even less.”

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