Hurricane Irma — the strongest storm to ever form in the Atlantic — is about to hit Florida. And state authorities appear to be ignoring minority communities.

According to community organizers with the Coalition to Support Racial Justice Organizing (CSRJO), shelters for Florida residents open during Hurricane Irma are ignoring low-income, black and brown communities that are living in the most disaster-prone areas of Miami-Dade County. Annie Schoening, who volunteers for the CSRJO, tweeted a screenshot from the official website that showed the names of shelters open for residents, saying that they were only in wealthy neighborhoods with high concentrations of white people:

CSRJO organizer Brittany Williams told’s Colin Kalmbacher that the nearest shelters are a 45-minute drive away from communities that are predominantly African American and Hispanic. She added that while shelters have been open in neighborhoods like Homestead, Leisure City, Goulds, Florida City, Naranja, and West Perrine, none were currently open as of Thursday evening.

“These are very vulnerable areas, economically, mostly people of color, immigrant communities, and migrant workers who live in camps directly adjacent to Biscayne Bay,” Williams told “People that live in these areas do not have a shelter. These areas are vulnerable because of their relationship to swamps. All of these areas are on swamplands and floodplains. During Andrew, Homestead and Florida City were completely demolished.”

Schoening, Williams, and others are calling on Miami-Dade County commissioners to open South Dade and South Ridge Senior High Schools to residents as a hurricane shelter:

As of this writing, the county’s emergency website still doesn’t list the school as an official shelter as of 1:37 AM Friday morning. This article will be updated if the school is opened to residents.


Scott Alden covers national politics, education, and environmental issues for Grit Post. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in Inkster, Michigan.

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