GUEST OP-ED: Working Together To Create A More Resilient Wayne County & Eastern NC

GUEST OP-ED: Working Together To Create A More Resilient Wayne County & Eastern NC

– Editorial Opinion submitted by Majority Leader John Bell and Representative Raymond Smith who represent portions of Wayne County in the N.C. House.

A few weeks ago, we were pleased to have N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) Secretary Elizabeth Biser visit Goldsboro to see firsthand flood-prone areas along Stoney Creek and hear directly from property owners impacted by chronic flooding.

She was also joined by representatives from the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) to learn more about the situation as the state begins to address the issue thanks to new flood mitigation funding in the budget.

As part of the nearly $1 billion investment in disaster relief and flood mitigation, we were proud to secure $3.5 million for NCDEQ to address continued flooding in the Stoney Creek watershed in Wayne County and Goldsboro. We also set aside $5 million to NCORR for acquisition of vulnerable property in the Stoney Creek watershed.

This is a big deal for Wayne County. These communities and businesses are under continued threat from flooding, which has happened repeatedly over the years. This funding will allow us to finally address this issue through proactive mitigation efforts.

Unfortunately, the flooding issues we face in Wayne County are not unique to our area. This is a critical issue facing communities across North Carolina

In three of the past six years, a major hurricane has hit North Carolina, bringing catastrophic flooding to eastern and coastal parts of our state.

That is why we as lawmakers came together in a bipartisan fashion to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to prevent flooding and prepare for future storms in North Carolina. With the recently approved bipartisan budget, we have now put forth the largest statewide investment in disaster relief and flood resilience in our state’s history.

To date, over $3.5 billion in disaster recovery aid has been spent in North Carolina to recover from just Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. Through studies, we now know that every $1 spent on pre-disaster mitigation today saves $4-7 in disaster recovery on the back end.

That is why the budget invests nearly $1 billion to help communities plan, prepare, and break ground on projects that reduce flooding. These investments will help us finally end the costly cycle of spending after disasters.

Notably, the bipartisan budget includes a flood resilience blueprint, which will allow us to identify and prioritize projects for our most at-risk watersheds, like Stoney Creek, and provide communities with information to make decisions.

While we will never be able to stop flooding, we are confident that these investments will allow us to take the necessary steps to mitigate flooding and protect property and lives.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are not necessarily the views of Goldsboro Daily News or Curtis Media Group-Goldsboro.