Hurricanes, wildfires, and drought: US finds itself battling climate disasters on several fronts

Homes near Norco, Louisiana, are surrounded by floodwater as chemical refineries continue to flare the day after Hurricane Ida hit southern Louisiana on August 30, 2021.

(CNN)Hurricanes, wildfires, floods, heat waves, and drought wreaking havoc on much of the United States paint a picture of a nation in peril. Region by region, the country faces compounding disasters.

Against the backdrop of the Gulf Coast picking through the rubble of Hurricane Ida's catastrophic aftermath, the Caldor Fire has torched nearly 200,000 acres in California and prompted mandatory evacuations for tens of thousands of people in the popular tourist destination of South Lake Tahoe and other areas nearby.
Meanwhile, Tennessee is also facing remnants of Ida as anxiety runs high for residents still reeling from last week's deadly flooding. Simultaneously, for those who stayed to ride out the storm in Louisiana, many will be experiencing searing temperatures that could potentially be dangerous without air conditioning due to downed power lines and uprooted trees that could have provided shade from the heat.
And in concert with the South's compounding heat advisory, the West is also facing an unrelenting drought that has led to water shortages in vast swaths of the region. Throughout all these disasters, the Covid-19 pandemic persists.
As the climate crisis accelerates, experts say that not only will these extreme weather events become more severe and more frequent, but that emergency response and recovery efforts will also become more challenging. James Elliott, professor of sociology at Rice University, said systems need to rapidly improve to address current and long-term issues.
"If you look at disasters across the country over recent decades, there's almost always stuff going on simultaneously, but what's changed is the intensity of impact, in part due to climate change but also due to increased development in harm's way," Elliott told CNN. "So the way to improve is to think about long-term solutions to these long-term problems."
With emergency resources stretched thin, Samantha Montano, assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, said that the recovery process tends to feel like a "second disaster" for residents seeking assistance.
"When you arrive at a situation like we are currently in, where you have every single state dealing with the pandemic response and then you add in these other more acute disasters along the Gulf Coast, out West, and even in the Midwest, there starts to be fatigue that sets in or starts to put a strain on the system," she told CNN.