Decimated by Hurricanes, Rural America Needs Our Help

Stop asking why so many people still live in such treacherous areas.


Comments: 79

  1. People should not live in flood plains, wherever they are. That is a legacy of subsistence agriculture, people farming the few acres around their homes. No one does that any more. Move uphill or away from low coasts. Don't rebuild in those places.

  2. Easier said than done. Many of these folks live hand to mouth. Chances are they don't have any homeowners insurance much less flood insurance if they own their homes outright. Land at higher elevations is owned by others so moving to higher ground is not an option. These salt of the earth folks are the ones that need help from all levels of government faster to help them recover from disasters. I suspect these poorer folks are the ones that clean the classrooms and hospitals, provide caretaker assistance in retirement facilities among other occupations.

  3. An intervention is required on all levels with all possible measures.

    I do not blame those that continually rebuild on flood plains or near the coast. I do not blame those that continually vote against their own interests, and for those that completely disregard climate change. (let alone banning even using the term) I do not blame those that turn around here in the opinion columns and elsewhere to point fingers and lay blame from the above.

    I blame meself while looking in the mirror. I could do more. We all could.

    We make decisions (some infinitesimal) each and every day that is contributing to climate change across the globe - everywhere. That may be the use of plastic, not recycling or driving across town to buy that imported product, instead of buying and supporting local. That could be our unsustainable hunger for more and more meat, or it could be wanting the perfect view, or house (where it should not be) to make our living. It is all related.

    There is no longer such a thing as a ''100 year climate event'' if they are happening every other year. - especially if people have not recovered from the previous event. All of the statistics and slide rule schematics no longer apply. We must be decisive and relentless in dealing with the problem at the front end, instead of continually reacting on the back end.

    Then we would no longer need columns like this.
    Just a thought ...

  4. Climate change has to be addressed by government. We can look in the mirror all we want, but it turns out you have to use a cloth shopping bag 167 times for it to have a smaller environmental footprint than using a plastic bag once, and growing avocados can be just as destructive as raising cattle. It's not going to be easy for us to make any difference by acting locally this time.

  5. And you think Trump's Congress will come through?
    He will do just the least he can do,
    Still climate change denier
    With the future dire,
    Our offspring Trump's election will rue!

  6. ... because none of is safe from the man-made devastation of climate change.

  7. I meant to type:

    none of us is safe

    If you blame people for living where they are vulnerable, we are all in the same leaky ecological boat.

  8. I want to start with the proposition that "we" (taxpayers) cannot provide perpetual insurance that persons affected by natural disasters will be maintained or made better in the same status as before. We do not have the resources to do this. Who is going to choose which persons are deemed "worth preserving in their original state?" Nobody mourned my father's factory which simply up and relocated elsewhere, leaving him and thousands of others adrift.

    I am all for providing financial, taxpayer-provided support for persons and communities affected by natural disasters and climate change. I do not feel that we must "preserve" their communities in some sort of static state. It is our responsibility as human beings to adapt to circumstances. I totally understand that people don't have enough resources to do that, and I want to provide those resources. But I want to provide resources for people to adapt, not to preserve people in situations that are simply untenable for various reasons. The only ones who deserve that kind of total protection are prehistoric tribes where there is no possibility that financial support would actually help in some meaningful way, that something altogether different is needed.

  9. Barooby, I agree with you. Is there any place that is completely safe from some kind of climate or geological catastrophe? I live in inland Massachusetts, 40 miles from the coast, yet we have seen devastation from hurricanes. We get Nor'easters, which is basically a winter hurricane that can dump 30 inches or more of heavy snow in a short period of time. Trees come down, power lines come down, roofs collapse. We now see tornadoes on a regular basis. I am near 60 and have seen two tornadoes in the last 1/2 a dozen years. Prior to this, none. One was about a mile from my childhood home. What many are unwilling to acknowledge is that people who live near the coast may have jobs as dock workers, fishermen, ship builders, Coast Guard personnel. All of our imported products come through ports; oil, coffee, sugar, any products that we can't or don't produce. How do people think we would have commerce coming in if no-one lives in commuter distance to these ports? As always the world is not black and white and there are no simple solutions to complex problems.

  10. Details, they rebuild over and over again in California areas prone to wildfires and mudslides so it kind of is the same thing.

  11. Two of the three examples you give make me think of John McPhee's "The Control of Nature". Disaster, hopefully rare, will always strike somewhere. Or in some cases something that should not have been a disaster will provoke one because of the way the land is used (and abused). I came out of McPhee's book with not much sympathy for LA and New Orleans. Somewhat more for the Icelanders since they don't have much choice. We need to become more discerning about where and what we build, because if we don't, Mother Nature will eventually win, at a terrible human cost.

  12. Not to wish any more hardship on the residents of these communities, but I would feel considerably more charitable to them if they would demonstrate the same reciprocity by not demonizing us urban centered taxpayers whose money for relief they depend on. Spare me the moralizing, and start looking more carefully at the awful lawmakers you elect who continue to govern against your and our planet's best interests.

  13. An intervention is required on all levels with all possible measures.

    I do not blame those that continually rebuild on flood plains or near the coast. I do not blame those that continually vote against their own interests, and for those that completely disregard climate change. (let alone banning even using the term) I do not blame those that turn around here in the opinion columns and elsewhere to point fingers and lay blame from the above.

    I blame meself while looking in the mirror. I could do more. We all could.

    We make decisions (some infinitesimal) each and every day that is contributing to climate change across the globe - everywhere. That may be the use of plastic, not recycling or driving across town to buy that imported product, instead of buying and supporting local. That could be our unsustainable hunger for more and more meat, or it could be wanting the perfect view, or house (where it should not be) to make our living. It is all related.

    There is no longer such a thing as a ''100 year climate event'' if they are happening every other year. - especially if people have not recovered from the previous event. All of the statistics and slide rule schematics no longer apply. We must be decisive and relentless in dealing with the problem at the front end, instead of continually reacting on the back end.

    Then we would no longer need columns like this.
    Just a thought ...

  14. I don't "blame" anyone, either, but I think it is foolish to use taxpayer money to insure and repair homes that almost certainly will be deluged again. The money would be better spent helping people to relocate to areas less vulnerable to flooding.

  15. I agree 100%. We need to attack this on the national and global level, but also on a personal level. Just imagine what we could accomplish, if ever human on the planet made changes in their day-to-day lives... changes which, you might 'resent' at first...you may think too 'difficult' or inconvenient at first...but which will eventually become second nature.

    Say No to single use plastic straws. (You CAN drink without a straw!) Say NO to ridiculous bottled waters. (Carry your own lightweight BPA-free, reusable water bottle.) Do we really need NEW everything??...new cars, new clothes, new furniture..and when there's so much great used stuff already in existence? (And on a similar note, how many great children and pets are already out there, just waiting to be adopted?? But no. Everyone wants a Mini Me, and a 'purebred' puppy mill dog, or the latest 'Pomsky' or 'Labradoodle...)

    End the quest for ridiculous 'perfect' lawns and which are full of chemicals. Gardeners should only grow Native plants, which provide better shelter and food for local wildlife. Enough with the vanity about how 'ugly' your home will look with solar panels. You will save thou$ands in energy costs and be helping the environment.

    Single-use plastic bags must be banned. Honestly, how lazy and self-centered are people, that they can't have a nylon bag with them at all times? Who cares if these bags litter our streets, our oceans, our parks, our trees, and cause the deaths of countless wildlife?

  16. I feel sorry for people in red states who get flooded out. I hope none of them think that "the government is the problem". Or maybe they should just buy private flood insurance. Oh, they can't afford it? Too bad, in the USA you get what you can pay for...Remember, self-reliance, pull yourself out of the flood plain by your own bootstraps, etc. Think about it on Nov. 6

  17. The subheadline "Stop asking why so many people still live in such treacherous areas" is misguided.

    We can help those in need today, but if we are facing new climate realities we cannot ignore the issue. Otherwise human nature is such that the status quo will persist and it will continue to happen.

  18. Sorry to be blunt; but if you voted for GOP rep who doesn't believe in science and global warming; shouldn't you be on your own?
    You have a chance to correct it this November, kick science deniers out of congress and we will rush with more help.
    Because that's the first help you do (without waiting for anyone else) now to have impact on your future.

  19. I' m not asking why so many people continue to live in such "treacherous" areas because I know why. They're poor.
    And overwhelmingly, they are people of color. And that is a toxic mix.
    The question I find myself asking these days, is what will it take for this president and this administration to finally take off their blindfolds and recognize that what's happening now is all about a change in the earth's climate, and that it's only being exacerbated by the burning fossil fuels that are wreaking havoc on the atmosphere ... worldwide.
    That's why one must sadly conclude it will take a Hurricane the strength of Michael to obliterate Trump's seaside resort Mar-a-lago, before he turns his attention to the devastation hundreds of Americans are now facing.
    But until that point, all we can do is prepare for more of the same.

  20. The same people who scream and holler about the size of the federal government and seek to impose their small-minded views on more worldly and wealthy urban populations now want help from the government and these same urban populations. I do not presume rural populations would be flocking to offer assistance in the event of a catastrophe in an urban area such as a major earthquake in the Bay Area for example. A sign of the times I suppose, but I am far less sympathetic to the plight of rural America these days.

  21. @Lucien Dhooge: A significant portion (and often a majority) of the folks living in the rural eastern NC towns highlighted in this article are African American. Not to stereotype, but I'm fairly certain those folks weren't Trump voters. So even if you choose to be vindictive, you are targeting the wrong people.

  22. This is one reason why we need a strong federal government. Individuals and communities are not capable of handling such devastation by themselves. Yet the people who have been impacted by these storms are often the very same people who rail against big government and have bought into the philosophy that government is the problem. Not only do they desperately need the help that the federal government can and should supply now, but as the article points out they need a government that will deal with and try to mitigate future tragedies caused by climate change. Only a strong federal government can lead the way to a future where we realistically address today’s problems and plan long range to prevent future disasters. Alternative truths just won’t cut it any more. We must fight for the future with facts, science and an educated citizenry who will finally vote in its own interests.

  23. All well and good Mr Fox & Hill - but in NC Governor Cooper's administration has been beyond incompetent in getting the federal aid for Hurricane Matthew distributed to places like Lumberton. Their point person famously ran from reporters after a hearing to avoid answering questions.

    The key is strong and committed local leadership to partner with FEMA. Absent that no plan works.

  24. So does Puerto Rico.

  25. Who could argue with the idea that we should have a more proactive, long-term solution to relocate or 'flood proof' primary homes of average Americans who live in areas prone to increasingly common flooding? What I object to is having my tax dollars bail out homeowners (particularly 2nd/vacation homeowners) who build on fragile waterfronts or beach-front property... and then expect federal aid to re-build when the inevitable happens. There are 100 year flood zones that get walloped by the unexpected and by all means, let's help these folks. But I have no sympathy for those who can choose where to live- and choose a dune facing a warming ocean.

  26. The only solution I can think of is to offer a one time buyout of these properties, condemns those that won't move voluntarily, bulldoze them then make area into a. big park. Sorry, but I can see no other solution.

  27. As the article points out, the effects of these storms are not just property damage, but the loss of culture for communities that cannot afford to re-build and have no insurance. The other article in the NYT today about the people in Florida who couldn't afford to evacuate is a further example of how climate change will affect the poorest people the most in the US and around the world.

  28. I learned something about insurance when I lived along the Mississippi River in Arkansas. My neighbor was wrangling with her insurance agency because, at age 85, she did not want to rebuild if her house was destroyed; she wanted to move to Little Rock to be with her children if her house was damaged. So she wanted to insure it for less than it was worth since she never wanted to rebuild. I asked her couldn't she take the money with her if she moved? She told me that her insurance company only paid out if she rebuilt in the same place. They won't pay out if you decide not to rebuild.

    So, what are we to do if the insurance companies only pay to rebuild if you rebuild on the same property? Most people can't afford to move to somewhere safer if their insurance only pays them to rebuild in the same spot. On top of that, if you own the land (and some people in the article lived on the same land since the end of slavery), who will buy it from you so you can afford to move? Between insurance payments, and the inability to sell flood prone land, what are you supposed to do if you're not rich?

  29. Article seems to miss the point completely. Absolutely help the poor who are most highly impacted by global warming, rising ocean levels and increased hurricane force and frequency.

    We help them by providing them with new housing in areas that are going to be less affected by global warming consequences. Areas that have education and job opportunities.

    The wealthy get subsidized for coastal building via the crazy "flood insurance" programs that poor cannot afford, with low cost loans to rebuild over and over again. Eliminating the real estate/construction industry flood insurance subsidy and putting the money to helping poor move to higher ground (in every sense of the word) is what any rational society would do.

  30. Adults, it is argued, have the choice. The children of these adults who choose to live in badly constructed homes in hurricane zones have absolutely no choice at all. The law requires them to stay with their parents, even if the parents are not making acceptable choices. We can't just write off the children who are required to live there. We can't just say, "oh, well, it 's your choice. Pay the consequences." They pay the consequences and they have no choice. What are we going to do?

  31. We have arrived at a "new normal" where our unwillingness to deal with climate change/global warming has made vast coastal areas uninhabitable given the storms we've had and those certain to come. A decade or so ago when massive flooding occurred in the Midwest, an effort was made to buyout owners property and relocate them away from the Mississippi flood plain. That's the only viable strategy now, It much cheaper than trying to fortify areas. Instead, coastal areas and adjacent flood plains should be declared national parks of recreational areas. With sea levels rising, hurricanes increasing in strength due to warming of the oceans, and a do-nothing, climate denying federal and most Southern state governments, this is the only viable strategy. The motto should be: Relocate, then rebuild.

  32. @Paul Wortman,

    We must not buy out developers who should have known better. Whatever buyouts we do should be for primary homes.

    People with vacation homes and developers should get nothing. Nothing.

  33. ...and the best way to help of course, the world over, is to halt the self-destructive trajectory we are on.

    When oh when are people going to wake up? Why can't people admit that maybe, just maybe, their own politicians do not care about future generations, but only care about maligning the other side?

    We thought it great when former Presidents signed into law, various social programs that would guarantee social security, a certain level of education, healthcare, etc. for present and future generations. We thought it great when land was set aside for perpetual public lands that could not be razed or 'developed'. So why is it that we don't seem to care to do the same, with regards to our entire planet and atmosphere?

    Positively stupefying. And utterly reckless and myopic.

  34. The coasts are in a precarious position and from what I’ve seen people are being stubborn and foolish. They want to be waterfront, regardless of the consequences and rebuild after every hurricane. It’s time for the government to step-in and stop. No more rebuilding without stricter codes. While it seems to be human-nature for many to desire to live by the water’s edge, it is no longer safe to do so. The less well-off are more at risk because they live in the less-safe areas, more low-lying and prone to flooding or damage. It’s just madness and by June everyone has amnesia about what happened in September or January. I’m sympathetic but people have to wake up to the reality that the storms are getting worse. Everyone used to say the bad storms happened every 50 or 100 years but now it’s every 3 to 5 and it’s scary. The areas that flood will be changed drastically in the next 25 years. It’s time to face that reality.

  35. Op-eds like this one drive me nuts because they don’t really say anything other than “we have a problem.” Just in one paragraph of this one we find these phrases: “robust, well-articulated plans,” “technical and administrative support” and “manage recovery funding.” This is just gobbledygook. Do you have any more idea what the author is calling for after you read these phrases than before?

  36. "Rural America" votes for trump he is a multibillionaire, let him help them out of his own pocket.

  37. Certain areas are going to have to be abandoned. I wish we could help everyone- we can't.

    Some people have had their homes rebuilt ten times- using subsidized, below cost, flood insurance.

    Then we have cities like Miami. They are still building there- on land that is going to be gone. Everyone with a cell in their head knows it is going to be gone. They build anyway- for a fast profit now or because they know that the government will, eventually, pay them back their full investment.

    Whatever policies we make in regards to 'helping' people we need to make sure that developers, who know what they are doing, do not get paid for their foolish buildings.

    We should, as a nation, start deciding now what cities along the coast we are going to fight to save and which we are going to let go. New York or Boston. Philadelphia or much of coastal Maryland. Florida or- wait Florida is gone.

  38. They can get in line behind Puerto Rico. If you don't help Puerto Rico, then I really don't care about anyone else--do you?

  39. Rural America elected Trump. No help from me, an East Coast Liberal, an immigrant (yes, legal), a man of color and a Muslim on top of it. Oh, and I have an advanced degree from Stanford that I apply to robotic automation of rural farm jobs. Yeah, the feeling is mutual.

  40. What about Puerto Rico then and now?

  41. If the Carolinas are crisscrossed by rivers leading them vulnerable to flooding even more than coastal regions vulnerable to a storm surge from the ocean, what do the authors propose we do? Relocate most of the population of entire states? How does one prepare for forty inches of rain, regardless of where one lives?
    Money doesn't grow on trees. North Carolina is a purple state with a gerrymandered legislature that wouldn't allow mention of climate change in discussing planning for the future. Ditto for Florida with Governor Rick Scott, running for Senator, who forbid the mention of climate change by the state government. Good luck with that. The same folks that hollered at federal disaster relief funds for Hurricane Sandy because the folks affected were mostly Democrats, ditto for the wildfires in California?
    I sympathize, but not with my wallet. Those irresponsible GOP politicians have been hurling insults at us while they shamelessly take our tax dollars as blue states give more to the federal tax coffers than they receive, while these red states take more than they give. Millions of us are fed up with this system from the party of alleged fiscal responsibility and that nifty trick of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.

  42. The Americans are rich.

    I'm sure they'll be able to rebuild the damaged infrastructure in no time.

  43. Well, the comments to this article really shows America for what it is. How many of these comments start with "I have no sympathy for..." I suppose it is only to be expected in the era of Trump. Is it comforting the cruelty seems bipartisan? May you all be treated with the exact same amount of mercy you have shown others when your time comes.

    That said, there is a persistent myth that POOR rural people made Trump's presidency possible. That seems to be driving a lot of the schadenfreude over a rural area from the left (on the right, schadenfreude seems to be SOP.) This is a myth. Exit polling from 2016 is about same as most elections - people with household income at $40k vote a lot less than people with higher income. Barriers that are no big deal for people with more money become a lot bigger when making rent and feeding yourself is an issue. But when they do vote, they vote overwhelmingly Democrat. Trump voters' median income is $71k, higher than national median. Being ignorant doesn't mean you are destitute. Being educated doesn't mean you are rich. Don't blame the people getting hurt the worst by this.

    Moreover, mass dislocations in the aftermath of natural disasters have widespread consequences. They damage the local and even state-wide economy, which will have national consequences down the line...especially when they happen in increasing intensity and frequency. So even if you "have no sympathy," take this article seriously for your own sake.

  44. We cannot help without the will in Congress. It is ironic that the states with representatives least willing to help the lower third in wealth need the most help. Vote the rascals out!

  45. Experienced 4 hurricanes in my life. Ike and Harvey in Houston, the others in NYC and New Hampshire. Not to mention nor easters and assorted gales and blizzards. Three earthquakes in NY and Japan. I almost forgot two tornadoes. One on the Sawmill Parkway. Oh I almost forgot a forrest fire although 30 miles away made it hard to breath. MyPoint where is it safe to live? Even the west and central part of the country can be wiped out by a volcano.

    Do we abandon in place New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seatle and anything 300 miles inland of the East and Gulf Coasts or make them pay for whatever disaster hits them themselves? Believe it or not some Houstonians don't want a slight tax increase to cover flood damage and infrastructure improvements for future flood improvement.

    There's alot of money in infrastructure improvements let's hope they don't spend it all on bullet trains.

  46. The Republican politicians in the areas most susceptible to hurricanes and floods work hard to destroy government until disaster hits and then of course they turn to government as the only logical source of help. Once the disaster passes they will do nothing to implement policies to move people out of catastrophe prone areas and continue to deny things such as climate change and refuse to make the hard choices that may mitigate future disaster. Yet each election their dim witted constituents vote them back in office.

  47. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. These disasters work to their benefit and the rich are all set to take advantage of these disasters.

  48. I feel empathy for the Grahams. That said, the place to which they are emotionally attached is unsafe to occupy and, unless they are prepared to insure their own emotional attachment, they will continue to pay the price. Government flood relief funds does not change the fact that they choose to live in an area which is subject to periodic inundation and that government cannot afford to keep them safely living there. Free choice has a cost.

  49. I (knocking on wood as I say it) live in as area 200 feet above sea level. My area has so far, suffered little major damage from weather related wind and rain. Okay, that's me.

    The United states has thousands of miles of coastline that must somehow come to terms with the rising water and increasingly frequent and destructive hurricanes. We are talking about millions and millions of homes that are in danger.

    The income distribution maps included in this article are daunting in terms of what the inhabitants can afford but mostly not afford to do.

    The only solution is a Federal Government that gets deeply involved. The individual states will never be able to afford the necessary steps and changes. We are talking about America pitching in. It is a lot to do and the proper tax distribution and funding is at the Fed level.

  50. How can you fix a problem, when you are not addressing the causes but only the symptoms? People do not live nowhere for fun. These calamities are all the result of people not being able to afford to live anywhere else. It's a place where you can't get there from here. You have to be born there or the bus stopped there. You have to feel sorry for these people, even if they voted overwhelmingly for Trump, who will bury them, long before the Russians do.

    As a society, we really do not care about these people and are reminded of them only in disasters like this. We do nothing. We help them rebuild and that's about it. It's a cottage industry. People make money from it. There is no plan to change anything. This will only continue to get worse and the American people, not the people making money off of it, will have to pay the freight. We have failed to address it and have only allowed it to get worse, in magnitude and cost. It's now uncorrectable, unless the major causes are addressed, climate change, the inequality in our economy, and properly defined building regulations. Do you think one of these houses actually had a hurricane tie attached to their roofs? Let's have a national seashore with no buildings.

  51. Each hurricane, storm surge, tropical storm represents another occurrence where tax money from the north, midwest, and far west heads to the south yet again. The same region that constantly complains about "big government" yet receives a disproportionate share of federal assistance. Again and again.

  52. Most of the southern represenataives refused to vote for aid for the New York City area after Hurricane Sandy. Big government, don't you know.
    The democrats should vote for aid to help the people of the South recover from the hurricanes to show them what real christian charity looks like.

  53. GEE I guess that the supporters of Trump in rural America, where the storms have created destructive devastation, will get a better idea of the person for whom they have voted: Trump. In some ways, Puerto Rico received favorable treatment from him, compared with his support of the flooded, destroyed areas in the rural USA. After all, in Puerto Rico, at least he went to a meeting where he threw paper towels at those in attendance. So much more sanitary than embracing the traumatized people who had lost everything. Topping off his support by stating that the US would not be staying very long. At least the people in Puerto Rico got paper towels and notice of the intended abandonment by the US president. In rural American, Trump has been AWOL. Now his supporters there will see the intent and character of the person they helped to elect.

  54. I think from the comments here people are missing the point. Millions of people live close to the poverty line, much of it vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow, the Great Depression of the 1929 and the 30's, and the Bush Great Recession, etc. These people don't have the financial resources to move or rebuild. Some people don't have $100,000 to 250,000 to rebuild.

    We haven't had storms of this magnitude move so far inland creating the havoc that they do. Mobile homes which dot the country are not able to withstand these storms, neither are homes built 70 years ago. Harvey and Florence have flooded areas which have never been flooded. And some businesses, employers are never coming back, so where are you going to get a job to get the resources to get back to where you were?

  55. Very well done article by some very astute people from North Carolina. It was very predictable that we would see another article like this, following the recent flooding. What I don't understand and for some reason was not noted in the article is why did North Carolina ignored these same writers in 2012. The only state to officially state that climate change can not be used to modify future building in the state. From my vantage point it seems important to look at your own behavior to start to mitigate future disaster.

  56. Maybe if these individuals stopped voting Republican they would have a Democratic government more responsive to their needs.

  57. I want to explain Fair Bluff and Lumberton, as well as Kinston and Goldsboro to fellow commenters. These are old towns, with lovely historic buildings and a real sense of down home Southern charm. They are also as depicted in the photos - towns with poor people living in sad circumstances and never able to change their situations.

    The South carries its long history right in plain sight, and for all the modern conveniences, there is still a class system and way of life that people will adhere to from birth to the grave, unless they leave to make a better life for themselves. Maybe their family passes the homestead down to them, maybe they are farmers and have acreage, maybe they are just afraid to go anywhere else. There are people who live in Fair Bluff who have never been to the ocean, which is 2 hours east, and people in Kinston who have never been to the mountains, not even 4 hours to the west. They live their lives at their church, their home, Walmart and fast food restaurants.

    Fair Bluff never really recovered from the hurricanes in the 1990's like Fran and Bertha, let alone Matthew. The homes sit right next to the river, which usually is very shallow and low, a quiet little stream.

    I also love historic Wilmington, but as the largest city/town on the list, it has become too expensive to live there, unless you are wealthy. Well paying jobs are hard to find and housing costs are out of sight. It also has a crime problem because of the opioid epidemic.

  58. Yes, but now is also the time to make sure FEMA money is well-used with new construction can withstand even fiercer storms. Contractors need to be vetted extremely carefully and at the first report of shoddy work, price-gouging, etc. gone from the program.
    Let's bring some ethics back.
    Then let's make sure the government paid for this and they need to vote for the people that help them. That their taxes help rebuild. They need to understand that taxes go into a big pot and they need to make their contribution.
    Just like the donald doesn't like countries not carrying their own weight with the US footing the bill, I think people in blue states are tired of the government officials in red states mooching off of us. Vote responsibly.

  59. Perhaps rural America should stock voting for the GOP and thus engender more sympathy from the rest of America. Climate change is real. Vote for candidates who believe this and are willing to make the zoning changes that accept this.

  60. Deeply connected to their landscape - but let's be realistic - without the flood insurance and all these artificial protections, they'd have had no choice but to leave. Most historical houses don't survive if they are on a floodplain, and as flood insurance, especially that subsidized by the government is a newish idea, they wouldn't have been built back then, or survived for long if they were on a floodplain.

    Rebuilding is no solution, not when it will just happen over and over again every few years.

  61. I don't wonder why people live in hurricane prone areas. I live in earthquake country after all. (I do wonder why they buy houses on flood plains, but that's another story.)

    However, I do wonder why they live in hurricane prone areas and then deny climate science and vote to gut FEMA and the EPA. Warmer surface water temperatures make hurricanes worse. Rising sea levels make floods and waves more destructive. And yet North Carolina tried to forbid planners from taking climate change into account with disaster planning. After Florence, floods swamped lakes of pig excrement and coal waste and washed them into waterways. It was 100% foreseeable, because it's happened before, but they keep voting for politicians who want to dismantle the EPA? The same southern reps who want recovery funding for their communities, including those from Florida and the Carolinas, voted against Sandy aid. Meanwhile, Trump, who won these states, is taking money from FEMA and the Coast Guard to put children in cages?

    Live where you want, but maybe vote like you live there.

  62. Many of the places, (Florida and Oklahoma in particular), have exacerbated the effects of storms by refusing for decades to adopt the Uniform Building Code. The UBC properly enforced would go a long way toward reducing the damage and destruction of residences and death and injury of tenants/owners. FEMA is a great organization, but should not be subsidizing shoddy code enforcement. The eastern U.S. has been experiencing hurricanes and tornadoes since the end of the last Ice Age. It might be time to enforce modern building codes, which are really pretty good.

  63. Right on, they need our help. Yet it is not unreasonable to demand—demand—that they rebuild their homes and out buildings at a location on their property that is not flood prone. If they can't do that, then it is reasonable to demand that they either give up their business or buy property elsewhere. Maybe we should help them with the latter; we should explore. But this will get worse and worse, and so the future must be accounted for in a way that foresees. Resources for relief will only be increasingly taxed and must be allocated wisely.

  64. Entire towns relocated after flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in 1993. The same thing can happen in North Carolina.

  65. 10 years ago, I would have felt terrible for fellow Americans in the Carolinas, and felt good about my federal tax dollars going to help them. But it's getting harder to gin up the goodwill these days.

    I live in a state that pays a lot more into the federal pot than it gets back. Never bothered me much in years past. But now my southern neighbors have seen fit to help elect a guy who has WIPED OUT my tax deduction to PAY FOR MY OWN in my my own state thru state income tax. This takes money out of MY FAMILY's budget.

    Republicans in congress and elsewhere are piling up a lot of ill will in some parts of this country. And they don't seem to be grasping what might happen down the road. I want to help my fellow Americans, but you keep sticking your thumb in somebody's eye and sooner or later, they're going to start looking for new friends.

  66. About that headline: The "dec" of "decimate" means ten, and the word basically means "kill one out of ten". By extension, it means "inflict 10% destruction" or, by further extension, "reduce severely". Even stretched to that limit, it's not quite the word you want.

    How about "Devastated by Hurricanes,..."?

  67. "This requires a marked shift from reactive to proactive approaches to policy, planning and design."
    One does not expect anything like "policy, planning, and design", proactive or otherwise, from the current party in power. This especially true as it may apply to poor people of color.
    The plantation is making a comeback.

  68. Lots of academic buzzwords and cliches in this article. But college professors don't make policy. And their ivory towers are usually far from natural disasters. Rather politicians make policy. So vote on November 6th! Our future depends on it.

  69. Help sustain communities that are situated directly in the path of natural disaster? Why not insist on their relocation to what we can only hope is a more viable geographical situation? Don't admonish wannabe benefactors to give without thought or regard to the long-term outlook of their purported recipients. We all need to face the consequences of manmade climate change and global warming with its innumerable examples of disruption and destruction, not to be told by this paper or anyone else to play ostrich games about them.

  70. What makes these people more deserving of help than those in NJ and NY that were harmed by Superstorm Sandy?
    Because they live in Red states?
    Voting out Republicans would be the best thing residents in these states could do to help themselves.
    Elect people who believe in science and understand climate change is real and must be addressed.

  71. I'm following the president's lead and sending Thoughts and Prayers.

    That and $3 will buy you a cup of coffee.

  72. Yes, they need America's help. Scott told people to evacuate but what if they had nowhere to go?

    It is important to understand there are places no longer safe to live. Some never were safe and some due to climate change. Both federal and state governments should pay these folks to relocate altogether. Keep rebuilding against 500 year storms every 5 or 10 years is just not economical

  73. Well, so much for the obvious. Now, where do we find senators, representatives, cabinet level people who can do the job?

    So far all I see are lobbyists; corporatist, and cabinet level de-regulators on the scene. Even a cabinet level Kirsten Nielsen couldn’t handle or implement a way to sort and record children. With incompetence like that at the top, I’m not holding my breath.

    I’d love to see wide swaths of coastal land become wild again. BTW, I live in an area due for a mammoth earthquake. I think about it a lot. Hard to leave home until nature tells you it is time.

  74. We are supposed to help Trump voters who hate us? Oh please!

  75. There's no need for Rural America to worry. Didn't they all vote for Donald Trump. I'm sure he's going to help them. Right!

  76. When tornadoes hit far inland such as tornado alley, and you live in a normal structure home or even if you live in a mobile home, it is best to also create an underground shelter. In this area you can expect destruction.

    Devastation in Houston by Harvey happened. Houston is only 50 miles from the coast Galveston. In 1900 Galveston storm killed over 8,000 people. When warned of impending doom, be quick and get out of Dodge.

    By a river or by the sea has to be the most dangerous places to live. If you must live there because of your job, leave as soon as you are warned of incoming danger. If you just like the water, fishing, the ocean, etc., leave as soon as you are warned. Expect to lose your property but save your life and your family.

    New Orleans and New York City are by the ocean and under sea level?

  77. We read about homes build in flood prone areas being flooded repeatedly with financial aid from the government to rebuild, costing several times the value of the house.
    Wouldn’t it be smarter to move those people away from flood prone areas?
    It’s only going to get worse with global warming!

  78. Seeing the many votes supporting comments that argue the folks profiled in this article brought this misfortune on themselves by (allegedly) voting for climate-denying politicians compels me to respond:

    1) A significant portion (and often a majority) of the folks living in the rural eastern NC towns highlighted in this article are African American. Not to stereotype, but I'm fairly certain these folks weren't Trump voters.

    2) NC's GOP-drawn voting districts have been overturned *multiple* times by federal courts, but the state's Republican leadership has successfully delayed and so received permission to use a voting map that the courts rejected as racially biased for November's election. The state popular vote is divided roughly 50/50, but gerrymandering and voter suppression resulted in a veto-proof Republican majority in the state legislature. Seeking retribution against the residents of high-poverty towns in rural Eastern NC is not just inhumane, it is ill-informed.

  79. please keep asking why people move into, build on flood-prone, environmentally sensitive areas. If we don't ask, it won't stop.