As climate change brings more natural disasters, debris piles up — increasing health risks

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  • Climate change is fueling more natural disasters leaving behind debris that can pose health risks.
  • Disaster debris takes up landfill space that is already at a premium in many places.
  • Rural areas are often at highest risk and experts say better government planning is needed.

When Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans in the summer of 2005, many residents in Versailles, a Vietnamese-American community in the east of the city, faced disaster for the second time.

Decades earlier, elders in Versailles escaped to New Orleans as the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon. Slowly, the community began to assimilate: Families opened restaurants and businesses, moved from public housing to home ownership, and children embraced English and American culture.

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