Responding to One Disaster—Failing to Prevent Another

Michigan has touted strict rules for essential workers during the pandemic. Yet when disastrous flooding hit the city of Midland, traveling workers brought in to clean up the mess—many of them undocumented immigrants—found themselves without proper PPE and sleeping in packed hotel rooms.
Many got sick, then moved on to different areas, taking the virus with them.
This vast, mobile workforce is only expanding alongside climate-related disasters. But the disaster relief industry’s opaque network of sub-contractors makes it easy to skirt standards, and workers have little recourse.
“No one is ultimately accountable." Says Saket Soni of the nonprofit Resilience Force.

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