In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, in agreement with the newly published calculations of the Louisiana government. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.
As a result, Cameron, the principal township in this 6,800 -person parish( as counties are called in Louisiana ), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So its here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.
Instead, Cameron has earned a different kind of notoriety: its the district that, percentage-wise, voted more in favor of Trump than any other district in the US in last few years election. Nearly 90% of the population did .
Why would some of the people most vulnerable to climate change vote for a legislator skeptical of climate changes existence? Why would people in Cameron Parish supporting policies that could ruin them?
To get to the root of this question, I slipped my tennis shoes into knee-high marsh waders, navigated the ropes on a rusty shrimp barge, and ate mountains of fried seafood. I spoke to people living different and yet parallel lives in Cameron Parish, where timelines are defined as pre-storm or post-storm, and where people kindly addressed me as Miss Shannon.
In rocking chairs and over lunch specials, I asked them about their seemingly contradictory views. I asked them why they voted for Donald Trump. And I asked them how they felt about being the proud residents of what may be Americas first drowning town.
Tressie Smith: If a hurricane comes, Im screwed
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