USA: In North Carolina, it's the poorest who bear the brunt of flooding
By Adam Gabbatt and Oliver Laughland
Lumberton, like the coastal cities of Wilmington and Jacksonville, has been hit hard by Florence. The Lumber river, which flows south through North Carolina, flooded during Hurricane Matthew two years ago, causing hundreds to lose their homes. More than a third of people in Lumberton live below the poverty line, and as with Matthew, and lower-income areas are likely to be hit hard by the floods.
During Matthew it was poorer communities here that suffered more than any other. In Lumberton, the south and west of the city – where much of the affordable housing is located – stands visibly lower than the more affluent downtown and north areas.
[Patrice] Carmichael [a Lumberton resident] felt that not enough effort had been taken to prevent the Lumber from flooding lower-income neighborhoods. “They [portray] us as the poor people. If we’re so poor then why mess up our houses – because other people have money to fix up their houses. We don’t.”
On the phone, [Reverend William] Barber argued that Florence should mark a moment to discuss the state’s various forms of structural racism and economic inequality.
“Where the hurricanes hit the hardest are the counties that have the highest number of black populations and poor populations. And yet in those areas the resources and the infrastructure that could be put in before we have storms is never quite dealt with,” he said.