There’s nothing like two 500-year storms roaring ashore in eastern NC in two years to get your attention. But, if you stop to think about it, that’s only part of the problem. Because out here in the western part of the state we’ve had our share of usual storms as well. Most of us have seen the destruction up close. And it’s all starting to feel like a bad trend.
So, what do we do?
Unfortunately, what we are doing is typical politics – hyper-partisan activists are lining up on opposite sides and they’re already pointing fingers and calling people on the other side names.
A more sensible solution would be to put the politics aside to discuss what can be done to help people and towns -like Fair Bluff- that were flooded by both hurricanes. That’s the alternative Duke University Professor of River Science Martin Doyle presented to the General Assembly’ s Joint Committee on Storm-Related River Debris/Damage last month.
Professor Doyle used stories to make his point, saying, “In 2019 North Carolina is as likely to have a flooding or hurricane disaster as we are to win a men’s national college basketball championship.” It’s human nature to believe natural disasters are rare but Professor Doyle put the odds of a major disaster in any given calendar year at 1 in 6.
Right now, after a hurricane, politicians go to work appropriating recovery grants to towns like Fair Bluff. But, then, another hurricane comes along, and history repeats itself and the same towns are flooded again. More floods. And more displaced families. I guess, next, we could discuss spending state tax dollars to build levees or dams to protect those communities but, when you get down to it, none of those suggestions is likely to be a lasting solution. What would work? It’s simple, updating flood maps and encouraging people who live in flood zones to move to higher ground.
A political circus is almost always more entertaining than a real debate about a serious problem. But with lives and property at risk we may want to skip the drama and go to work on a solution.