With North Carolina slowly beginning the process of recovering from Hurricane Florence, the North Carolina General Assembly is scheduled to meet Oct. 15 to approve a multimillion-dollar package of aid to farmers, flooded out homeowners, small businesses and disaster-stricken communities.
On Oct. 10, Gov. Roy Cooper released his Hurricane Florence recovery plan, which includes substantial investments to help North Carolina recover from the disaster. You can read a summary of Cooper’s plan here.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation is working with Gov. Roy Cooper and legislators of both parties to help ensure that these investments also make the coast stronger and more storm resilient. Some of our recommendations include:
- Expand funding for the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund and other trust funds. This funding can help homeowners, farmers and communities move out of areas at high risk of flooding; it can also restore wetlands and improve stormwater control systems that use the land’s natural landscape to control flooding and runoff.
- Employ coastal residents to clean up storm debris. A great deal of storm debris from destroyed docks and other sources is scattered over a large area of North Carolina’s coastal marshes and waterways. Removing this debris can protect water quality, fish habitats, navigation and coastal viewsheds. State and federal emergency funds can be used to employ commercial fishermen and other local marine contractors to do this work. The federation’s Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, which employs commercial fishermen to collect lost crab pots, should be used as a model for this effort.
- Help shellfish growers recover from Hurricane Florence. Early estimates put Florence-related losses to the state’s shellfish industry at $5-6 million. Most of these losses were to small business owners — many of whom also had damage to their homes. Unlike many agricultural commodities, shellfish do not qualify for federal crop loss assistance. These growers need the same help farmers are requesting — assistance to replace the income and equipment they lost in the storm.
- Streamline the permit process for living shorelines erosion control efforts. Preliminary reports indicate that living shorelines erosion control efforts — which also improve water quality and fish habitat — fared better than bulkheads in weathering Florence. As coastal property owners begin to rebuild, lawmakers should give state regulators the authority to adopt new rules that will reduce the waiting time for a living shorelines permit from months to a few days.
More information about these proposals and the federation’s state advocacy work is available here. To stay up to date about this work, subscribe to Coastal Review Online, a free news service about North Carolina coastal issues and people.
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