Stormy Weather

| September 8, 2017

by Tom Campbell, NC SPIN Producer and Moderator, September 7, 2017.

No doubt you’ve seen the devastation Hurricane Harvey wreaked in Texas. Sure as September, we are in the midst of storm season and all eyes are now glued to the latest projections on Hurricanes Irma and Jose and their potential impact on us in North Carolina.

Names like Hazel, Donna, Hugo, Fran, Floyd, Isobel, Irene and Matthew flood us with memories of past storms that have impacted our state, causing loss of life and property damage of untold amounts.

Like many, we have served on disaster response teams within our state and elsewhere, mucking out houses, hauling away keepsakes and making repairs to homes badly damaged by these natural disasters. The losses are immeasurable and those affected will never be “made whole,” either financially or emotionally. We have learned that sometimes the most help is given in just listening and consoling. For a few moments we forget our political, racial, geographic and cultural differences to unite in bringing comfort to those in need. These tragedies bring out the “better angels” among us.

Even as we understand and desire to help there are questions we need to raise. Are these weather events more frequent and more damaging in recent years than in the past or do we just see more of their impact because of expanded TV and Internet coverage? What factor, if any, is climate change? How much of the damage is a result of our increasing appetite to build larger, more aesthetically desirable homes in coastal areas or in flood plains? Have we become “riverboat gamblers” who either don’t understand, are willing to accept the risks involved in building in areas that could be potentially affected, or do we just have a blind faith that we won’t be impacted?

Another question is whose responsibility it is to come to the aid of these victims? How much of a role should government accept and how much should be the responsibility of neighbors, philanthropists or the owners themselves? Further, is all human suffering equal? Are those in larger, more prosperous regions more deserving of help than those in smaller, less affluent areas or should the response be equal? Finally, what can be done to ameliorate future damage?

Do not interpret these questions as mean-spirited or even as an unwillingness to help others in their time of need. Several things are clear: because of population growth and increased development there is more potential for future damage and the costs for repair, replacement or rebuilding are escalating rapidly, outpacing government’s ability to pay for damages.

While the outpouring of support for current hurricane victims is gratifying we need not look too far to be reminded that there are still thousands in our state who still haven’t recovered from the effects of Hurricane Matthew last year or Hurricane Irene, which struck us in 2011. Most of those impacted by those storms live in more rural, less wealthy areas. We applaud the president and FEMA for huge pledges of support for Harvey victims, even as we acknowledge that North Carolina didn’t get that same opening of federal pocketbooks.

We will know soon what damage Irma and Jose might bring and we pray all in their path will be safe.


Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

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  1. Here’s something you may not know about North Carolina’a part in the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The US peanut industry sent over 100,000 jars of peanut butter labeled not with the manufacturer’s name but instead with a label that simply says “Proudly donated by the U.S. peanut industry.” The effort was spearheaded by the Texas Peanut Producers organization, but one pallet of about 1,400 jars was sponsored by the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association in Nashville, NC, Bob Sutter ([email protected]), Executive Director. I was at the NCPGA’s annual meeting last Thursday at the Peanut Belt Research Station in Lewiston, NC, and heard area promotions director Marianne Copelan ([email protected]) give a talk about those efforts and plans to provide more. Bet they have plans to do something similar for Florida and Georgia even as they stare down the double barrels of Hurricane Jose and the one behind that. I have been NCSU’s peanut breeder for over 27 years and have come to realize that I work for a very cool industry alongside some very cool people.