NC - Legislature nears record-breaking investment in 'resiliency': Coastal Review writer Kirk Ross

North Carolina’s legislature is about to devote a record-breaking amount of money to resiliency planning in the face of strengthening hurricanes. And this environmentally-focused legislation is bipartisan. WHQR’s Kelly Kenoyer asked Coastal Review writer Kirk Ross to explain his reporting on the issue.

Kelly Kenoyer: I'm here with Kirk Ross, a writer for the Coastal Review. Welcome, and thank you for joining us.

Kirk Ross: Thank you very much.

KK: So, just how much money is the state budget setting up for resiliency this year?

KR: It's hard to put an exact amount on it because it's in different pockets. But roughly a billion dollars is going into a combination of programs around resiliency, flood mitigation, land conservation, things like that. There's a lot built into the budget, but directly — almost a billion.

KK: How does that compare to prior years?

KR: This amount of money is maybe 10 times what we've seen. It's a substantial investment. It's not just throwing money at the issue: it's very strategic.

KK: That's pretty incredible. So who all is supporting this, this money, this influx of money that's coming in towards the resiliency?

KR: Well, there's a pretty broad coalition, you have folks who are deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change. And you have folks who are absolutely concerned about flooding and mitigation from disasters at a very hyper-local level.

We had such devastation in this state, that a lot of the thought and ideas of going and handling things from storm to storm, that dialogue is completely changed. It's all about how to prepare for the next storm and the one after that, and the one after that.

I was interviewing the state climatologist, Kathie Dello, and she made the comment that there's really not going to be a new normal, that there's going to be these repeated storms. And we're going to have a warmer wetter climate. And that means even non-tropical storms are going to be rougher, they're going to be wetter, they're going to dump more water in a shorter period of time.

So throughout the state, there's a lot of consensus that we have to get better at mitigating this. It's finding ways to channel water, finding ways to keep roads to hospitals open. Things like that.

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