The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Tornados in Alabama:
A Social Disaster, Not a Natural One

May 16, 2011

The tornados of April 27 hit Alabama especially hard, killing 350 people and destroying 10,000 buildings. This was one of the worst natural disasters since Katrina in 2005, and like that catastrophe, the poorest people were the most affected.

Certainly, tornados are climate events that weather forecasters can’t predict, even in the short term. At most they can say what areas are at risk, where tornados have hit before, and predict that this spring there will likely be many tornados. In fact, they were able to give some warning to some areas in Alabama, but could not predict the path of the tornados.

There is only one way to be protected from tornados: build underground shelters or underground basements that will protect people when the building collapses. In Pratt City, a black neighborhood of Birmingham, a tornado devastated the area in 1988. Since the residents were poor, they were never able to build shelters that could protect them in future disasters. The state of Alabama did nothing to aid them. Most of the people there have homes made of wood, and the roofs were swept away like straw in the wind, leaving survivors in rubble with no shelter! Other parts of the state suffered in a similar way.

Some residents said with resignation, “Mobile homes attract tornados.” It could even be said that poverty attracts tornados. A meteorologist showed that 44% of those who died in tornados in 2008 lived in mobile homes, and that this figure could rise to 50% today!

It is one of the aspects of this economic system, which forces residents of the richest country on earth to live in mobile homes, at the risk of natural disasters. Will the U.S. government offer the survivors new mobile homes, like all those that still exist six years after Katrina?