Never again: Lessons need to be learned from Hurricane Matthew

Residents in Lumberton are still suffering from this disaster:

The southern part of Lumberton was one of the hardest hit areas by the Oct. 8 storm, primarily due to widespread flooding from an engorged Lumber River. Dozens of people were stranded and needed to be rescued, while hundreds were forced from their homes. Five shelters were opened for more than 1,800 people. In the days following the hurricane, many residents were trapped because water had flooded major roads in the city cutting them off.

With no electricity, there was virtually no gasoline, water or food for sale. Bottled water and military MREs were distributed to residents from 10 of the county’s 28 fire stations. The city’s water treatment plant flooded, shutting down public water for about two weeks. About a week after the hurricane, officials attributed three deaths in Robeson County to Hurricane Matthew.

Although McCrory started making noises in late October about a Special Session to allocate funds for the disaster, it didn't happen until mid-December. And Republicans promptly added two more sessions to take away power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper after they had dealt with those pesky relief funds. And just to give you an idea how venal and opportunistic they are, here's Tim Moore's announcement on the bill:

"North Carolina is well-prepared financially to provide disaster victims with relief thanks to a $1.6 billion Rainy Day Fund and substantial budget surpluses," Moore said, in part. "Our state can fund the Disaster Recovery Act without borrowing money or raising taxes because legislators spent responsibly and saved taxpayer dollars in our emergency fund over the last four years."

Really? That's what you were proud of, the fact we don't need to raise taxes to help people? Maybe it's that self-centered approach that kept this lady out of her home for over nine months. Back to the OP:

Lola Smith swung open the door of her darkened, first-floor room at the Motel 6 off Interstate 95. A group of young people laughing and yelling next door was drowned out by the whizzing of cars on the interstate and the humming from the air conditioner. Smith flipped on the light, revealing an impersonal, bare room except for a few novels stacked on the nightstand and a red tub of coffee on the microwave. She gently closed the door behind her. “This is home,” Smith said.

Ever since Hurricane Matthew’s widespread flooding forced her from her apartment in the middle of the night last October, Smith has lived in shelters and the motel room. A week ago — nine months after the hurricane — she finally began moving her few possessions into her renovated apartment.

“The hotel was getting to be depressing,” she said on July 14, moving day. “Living out of the suitcase is something you don’t want to do. You have to dig through everything to find what you’re looking for. All those things that we have now, I will never take them for granted. I will never take anything for granted.”

We have to do better, folks. How many of you were aware people were still displaced from this storm? I wasn't. I knew recovery took longer than it should have, but this article took me by surprise. But we should all have been watching.

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