5 stories of people impacted by climate change and inspired to take action

collage of five people looking at the camera in selfie mode

Natasha Jacob, Karla Hernandez, Maggie Brooks Taylor, John Roscoe, and Brandi Barela share their climate change stories

Activists recount extreme weather disasters at home and abroad

If you’re one of the 70 percent of us in the U.S. whose communities have experienced a climate disaster or extreme weather in the past year, you already know that climate change is personal. Years of discriminatory and racist policies have made it so communities of color and poor and working-class communities are hit first and worst by these events, but storms and fires themselves don’t discriminate. Each disaster makes it clearer and clearer – we’re all taking these punches. 

Throughout 2022, we have seen heat waves, drought, floods, wildfires and tornadoes. And even though hurricane season had a slow start, Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian quickly reminded us of what’s at stake. Fiona left a path of destruction across Puerto Rico that included damaged homes, landslides, flooded roadways and a total blackout of the island's power grid. A week later, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a catastrophic, Category 4 storm, destroying and flooding homes and businesses and knocking out power to nearly two million people. Parts of the U.S., especially in the West and Midwest, suffered from intense heat waves and devastating drought, leading to rare and extreme flooding over the summer in some areas. 

Over the past year, we asked members of the TWS community to tell us some of the ways climate change impacts like these are affecting their lives. Many responded and shared disheartening stories by video and text message about families in danger and lives uprooted. But they also shared how these experiences motivated them to take action. 

We know that sharing stories like these builds community, and it’s through community and collective action that we can spur positive change.

Brandi Barela - Laporte, CO


“There’s some smoke in the air … this is the constant position we are in.” 

Brandi lives in LaPorte, Colorado, and is always worried about having to leave everything behind in the event of a wildfire. She knows “far too many people” in that kind of position now. Brandi believes there isn’t enough being done to fight climate change. 

John Roscoe - Vancouver, WA


“This is just a really tangible example of what’s in store if we don’t get this under control.” 

John lives in Vancouver, Washington, in an area known for its very mild temperatures. But recently, he has experienced more extreme heat. John, who works for a tree service, noticed how everything from bigleaf maples to the iconic Douglas firs were affected by a heat wave last summer. Some have recovered, but others haven’t and are dying. This event made him want to fight climate change even more. He wants his children to grow up and be able to enjoy the beauty of the plants and animals of the Pacific Northwest like he has.   

Karla Hernandez - Tucson, AZ


“Whenever the rain does hit and the floods come in, it’s like seeing a full-force river run through your town.”  

Karla lives in Tucson, Arizona, and has experienced extreme heat, drought and flooding. She is originally from the border town of Nogales, in Mexico, and worries about her family there because she has seen how flash floods have devastated the area. Karla knows the impacts of climate change don’t stop at borders and she worries that they will continue to impact vulnerable and underserved communities the most.  

Maggie Brooks Taylor – Centerville, TN


“The psychological effects are really off the charts … you’re constantly checking the weather and you’re always worried about the storm …"   

Maggie lives in Centerville, Tennessee, and has gone through several natural disasters, including tornadoes, drought, flooding and extreme heat. The aftermath and clean-up from these events have left her mentally and physically exhausted. She wants everyone to educate themselves about climate change and its devastating effects and to come together to fight back.   

Natasha Jacob – Durham, NC


“Any small decision that we make today will have a huge impact in the future.”    

Natasha lives in Durham, North Carolina, but is originally from Chennai, a coastal city in India that has seen devastating flooding. She sees parallels between events like that, recent flooding in Pakistan and flooding in her current home. Last year, Tropical Storm Fred caused massive flooding and resulted in the death of six people. She points out that extreme weather events like these will continue to get worse if we don’t take urgent action.    

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