Another View of Charleston’s Historic Flooding Problems

Posted By Bill Payer on Apr 19, 2023 | 0 comments

If you enjoyed Christina Rae Butler’s discussion of her recent book, “Lowcountry At High Tide: Flooding, Drainage, and Reclamation in Charleston”. you may be interested in another book on the topic.  CLICK HERE to see more on Butler’s April 18 DIHS program.

Susan Crawford’s “Charleston: Race, Water and the Coming Storm,” sounds a warning for a city she finds too slow in its response to both racial conflict and sea level rise.

Here’s an excerpt of her Q&A with the P&C’s Adam Parker in a recent article.

Q: Tell me a little about the “intersection between climate and race.” In what ways are the history of racial discrimination and the acute climate challenges of today and tomorrow linked? And in what ways will climate change disproportionately impact people of color here and elsewhere?

A: The U.S. has an ugly history of exclusion of racial minorities from home ownership and public investment, and these patterns continue to play out in many coastal cities. Black residents are often living, and often renting, in low-lying areas that are already prone to flooding and don’t receive adequate public infrastructural investment.

There is a great deal of research showing that racial minorities always suffer more from extreme weather — both extreme heat as well as chronic flooding — and find it more difficult to recover from disasters.

In Charleston, the explosive gentrification and displacement that have taken place over the last few decades have amplified and entrenched these patterns of differential vulnerability. Basically, both the options and the public supports available to wealthy, mostly White coastal residents will allow them to thrive in the decades to come, even if they end up voluntarily moving inland to safer areas. But low-income and racial minority residents will have, in the main, far fewer choices and less public support because of where and how they live, and what other resources they have (or don’t have). In the absence of policies addressing the needs of low-income and marginalized communities, a long list of pre-existing vulnerabilities (inadequate health care, sub-standard housing, food insecurity) are very likely to intersect with extreme weather and rapidly accelerating changes to worsen already extraordinary inequality.”

To read the entire Post & Courier article CLICK HERE.

Who is Susan Crawford?

Susan Crawford is a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in tech, public policy, and how they affect our lives. She is the author of three books on the subject and a columnist for WIRED. 

Crawford served as President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009).

She has several upcoming local appearances:

If you go

WHAT: Susan Crawford in conversation with Michelle Mapp

WHEN: 4-5 p.m. Thursday, April 20

WHERE: Itinerant Literate Books, 4824 Chateau Ave., North Charleston

COST: Free

MORE INFO: RSVPs encouraged at

* * *

WHAT: Susan Crawford in conversation with the Rev. Joseph Darby

WHEN: 6-7 p.m. Friday, April 21

WHERE: Buxton Books, 160 King St., Charleston

MORE INFO: RSVPs encouraged at

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