Letter to the Editor: Flood risks, climate impacts not partisan issues

Published 7:50 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

To the Editor:

While partisan rancor gets the lion’s share of headlines in North Carolina political coverage, there have been many important issues our lawmakers have been working on together behind the scenes. As we prepare for a new year, it’s important to take stock of what’s gone right in our politics. I am grateful for Governor Cooper’s leadership and the bipartisan work he and our legislative leaders put in to get a budget signed this year. While the budget may not have addressed every need affecting North Carolinians, there are critical initiatives that will serve our state well in the years to come.

I’m particularly proud of the legislation that addresses flood resiliency and the budget provides a record $100 million in funding to support communities across the state through the creation of the Stormwater Investment Infrastructure Fund. The legislation also establishes the Flood Resilience Blueprint which equips local and state leaders to develop cost-effective and regional mitigation approaches. Because of climate change, we know storms in North Carolina are getting stronger and more frequent – this funding is essential to mitigate storm damage before it occurs AND position the state for swift and effective recovery after storms hit.

The legislation within the budget is a strong start and builds on Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and the state’s Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan but there is more work to be done. Next year I hope to see even stronger commitment from our lawmakers to address flooding. As North Carolina invests in new and upgraded infrastructure across the state, the state must take climate risks into account in deciding where to locate and how to design those projects. An especially effective way to make state investments more resilient is incorporating natural designs that capture stormwater to address flooding and improve water quality. Utilizing natural designs can provide shade and lower the temperature in hot urban neighborhoods while creating beautiful green spaces for recreation and wildlife.

Addressing flood risk and other climate impacts is not a partisan issue – it benefits all North Carolinians from the coast to the mountains and from cities to farms. I hope North Carolina’s leaders will continue to work together to tackle the pressing issues of flood preparedness and recovery. As the storms impacting North Carolina become more intense our state must use practical, cost-effective measures to ensure we continue to thrive and prosper in a changing climate.

Tommy Fulcher

Southern Shores

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