Our hearts and healing vibes go out to our fellows across the state as they rebound from Hurricane Florence. Check these links if you're moved to donate or volunteer with Florence recovery efforts:
- Gov Cooper's site for information and donations: Rebuild NC
- NC Climate Justice, NC Warn, Democracy NC and other orgs: A Just Florence Recovery
- Vetted, on-the-ground relief organizations in Eastern NC: Blueprint NC/Act Blue
Stamp NC Blue PAC has kicked off a special, one-time, round of postcards to registered NC voters encouraging them to vote for Anita Earls for NC Supreme Court in November. Find out more, donate, and volunteer for this new effort and share the link! Stamp NC Blue supports the progressive values of NC's Democratic candidates.
Hurricane Florence gobbled up this past week's news cycle as she dumped lakes' worth of rain on our state and caused massive ocean swells, essentially flooding most of the eastern third of the state. Most of us were impacted in some way, and most of us also know that we'll be feeling the effects of the storm for the next while as we repair and rebuild.
Florence also left us with a set of effects that may not be as apparent as the murky floodwater lapping at Lumberton's doorstep, but are deserving of our attention. Especially those of us who were fortunate enough to miss most of the devastating physical consequences of the storm.
At least 1.4 million people in North Carolina are experiencing drinking water shortages. NC Policy Watch has a list of the counties impacted and the utilities experiencing outages or damage. Hopefully the new policy put in place by the NC Department of Health and Human Services will assuage this a bit. They're now allowing people participating in the Food and Nutrition Services program to purchase ready-made hot meals with their EBT cards. Pass this link onto anyone you know who participates.
The NCGA is considering yet another special session--if needed– to focus "only" on hurricane disaster relief. Yeah, that's exactly what the GOP said after Hurricane Matthew, during which special session they passed laws undercutting then-Governor-elect Cooper. Be ready to pick up the phone if they decide to pull shenanigans again.
Floodwaters are affecting infrastructure beyond roads and power lines. Several dams around the state are being tested by the floodwaters, but I have not been able to find any reports of serious, life-threatening breaches. Overflowing rivers and massive rainfall have also pushed into landfills, coal ash deposits, and hog farms, risking contamination. Duke Energy's Sutton plant near Wilmington saw a collapse at a coal ash landfill over the weekend. The Neuse River near Goldsboro flooded three old coal ash dumps capped with soil. Hog farms containing large pits filled with waste from the hogs were at risk of being flooded, and reports of breaches and overflows are beginning to come in.
As Longleaf Politics so aptly points out, natural disasters don't pause politics (this link is a good resource; sign up for their mailing list if you want to get updates like this). Florence didn't display much tact for striking when she did, only weeks before early voting starts and right in the middle of the absentee ballot mailing process. Damage from Florence put the postal services in 227 zip codes out of commission. But counties are already taking action to make sure voters can access the polls, and the NC NAACP is offering its help to make sure absentee ballots get out as quickly as possible.
In 2012, North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill that prohibited policymakers and developers from using revised data on climate change and its effects to plan for rising sea levels. Since then, our state has seen two major storms that have caused multiple billions of dollars in damage and delayed or lost economic growth: Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018. Several communities are still not fully recovered from Matthew. Florence razed a similar swath of the state to Matthew; those among the hardest hit were often the ones deepest in poverty and most in need of support and aid they never got. Please consider donating to one of the charities linked above to help out your fellow North Carolinians.
Because of the Republicans' intentionally short-sighted greed, North Carolina's infrastructure and economy was and will remain woefully unprepared for climate change, which breeds higher seas and bigger storms, a combination that will threaten more and more North Carolinian lives as time goes on.
But, as time goes on, North Carolinians will do what I've seen them do over and over: rise to meet the challenges they face with strength and courage born of the need to do what's right. We do it a lot, which is why we're good at it. Which is also why I have faith that we will weather and conquer the storm of bad government the GOP has brought down on us.
We do that by sticking together, helping each other, speaking out, and voting.