Hog waste, along with a witches brew of other pollution, arrives at New Bern, September 1999
By all accounts, Hurricane Floyd was a bad actor. It produced flooding not seen in North Carolina in a few hundred years. But it was not a surprise. North Carolina is located in "Hurricane Alley." Storms, big and small, frequent the state with regularity.
Over the past eight years, five significant storm events caused serious flooding problems in the state's coastal area. Two storms, Bertha and Fran produced flooding in 1996. The winter rains of 1998 also produced significant flooding, especially along the Neuse River. In 1999, Hurricane Dennis slammed the coast twice. Its impact was rain--lots of rain. Floyd immediately followed Dennis adding another 12 to 20 inches of water. The result, like so many times before, was a flood of polluted water raging down North Carolina's rivers.
Waterkeepers and other environmental leaders in this state had been warning the Governor and members of the NC legislature for years about the destruction that would accompany a storm like Floyd. Thousands of huge cesspools, called "lagoons," filled with feces, urine and other toxins, blanketed the flood prone area. Many were located in the worst possible area, the floodplain itself. Pictures and video showing ruptured and flushed out "lagoons" and confinement buildings caused by earlier storms were freely shared with all state leaders. Forewarned, state leaders chose to ignore the inevitable, hoping it would not happen on their watch.
The pictures that follow tell the story. You might ask if anything was learned as a result of Floyd. If it was, it wasn't much. Today, as hurricane season approaches once again, everything is about the same as it was in 1999. The same "lagoons" that were in the floodplain are still there waiting for the floodwaters to once again flush their contents down the rivers. As for processing dead animals, that is also the same. While the NC Department of Agriculture boasts of an emergency disposal plan, the fact is, no plan can be reasonably expected to deal with millions of dead chickens and turkeys and hundreds of thousands of dead hogs at the same time people are fighting to protect their lives and property. It is a health disaster in the making.
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