Why coastal Carolina may never recover from its intensifying hurricanes

Floods leave too much behind. That’s how Sherry Henderson described life in Pollocksville about 40 days after Hurricane Florence. The future will bring growing uncertainty for riverside and coastal communities, in Pollocksville and beyond. Epic rainfall and massive storm surge will only intensify with climate change.

The storm flooded half of this North Carolina town, which sits on the banks of the Trent River, about 50 miles from the coast. For days, floodwaters stewed in the Henderson’s two-story home, where the family had lived for 26 years. Florence wiped out the family’s kitchen, den and master bedroom, and lifted the garage off its foundation. More than a month after the storm, mounds of mattresses, couches, framed pictures still lined the Hendersons’ street, along with a few pianos.

Unlike a wildfire, which burns everything, a flood ruins and spoils. Flood survivors often spend days picking through their soiled belongings, deciding what to salvage and what to shed. Despite never being troubled by flooding in the past, the Hendersons feel now is the time to decide between rebuilding or moving on.

“Our hearts are strong, and the community remains resilient,” Henderson, 54, told the PBS NewsHour. “But I might take a buyout if the county offers one.”

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