DSA Hurricane Florence Recovery Efforts

It is never the bosses who are forced to pay the piper when the consequences of their decisions come calling.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Florence was no accident: its human impact can be linked directly to centuries of deliberate policy choices. The size and severity of the storm was almost certainly exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change. Further, North Carolina’s past as a slaveholding state was made apparent in which communities in eastern NC were devastated and which stayed dry; richer, whiter communities usually have the higher ground, while Black communities were founded on the cheaper floodplains (including some of the few extant cities born from Emancipation during Reconstruction). The Lumbee tribe of Scotland and Robeson counties, where Hurricane Matthew struck hard in 2016, have now seen their homes flooded twice in two years. The people of those communities now sit under the weight of even more water this time, feeling abandoned and ignored by policymakers.

The environmental toll that will be paid by the working class communities half-drowned in this storm is one levied by decision-makers far away from places like Lumberton and Spring Lake. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are the name of the game that feeds major multinational corporations like Smithfield. In Duplin and Samson counties, they are thick on the ground with pigs and pig shit. These farms, when they aren’t facing a meter of rain falling over less than a week, cause noxious environmental impacts as it is. With the wall of water that was brought by Florence, they turn the floodwaters into county-sized septic tanks, exposing those just trying to survive the storm to disastrous environmental waste.

And then there’s Duke Energy and its thrice-damned coal ash. Already responsible for poisoning the Dan River in northern NC and tainting groundwater in Robeson county, the coal ash did no favors to communities already reeling from the storm. At least two coal ash ponds breached during the storm, adding arsenic and other carcinogens into flood waters spilling their way out to sea in the Cape Fear river…on top of contributing the carbon production that made Hurricane Florence as severe as it was.

We say enough. We say that the people who are hurting the most in the wake of this storm should not be forced to pay the price of it. And we are asking for your help.

NC Piedmont DSA, Charlotte DSA, and Charleston DSA have come together to form the Florence Recovery Working Group. By fundraising and recruiting volunteer labor for service organizations that are working with people in need in the storm zone, we are looking to show that the only answer to such catastrophes is a socialist one. We owe a debt of gratitude to our comrades in Houston DSA, whose admirable and ongoing work in the wake of Hurricane Harvey last year inspired the formation of this effort and have informed our work through the invaluable resources they have shared with us.

To start with, we are working with two service organizations whose principles are compatible with DSA’s: Mutual Aid Carrboro, who helped coordinate air-drops of supplies to the city of Wilmington as it was cut off from land access during the storm, and the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, a union-affiliated service organization with deep ties to communities of color statewide. We will be operating in an accountable and transparent fashion with any group that chooses to partner with us, and will be distributing the funds we raise with frequency. Money that just sits in an account for months on end while people suffer does no good.

But this is just the start. North Carolina is going to be a long time recovering from this storm and, in the end, the only answer to the current barbarism is socialism.

If you are interested in donating money, you can give via Venmo to @DSAFlorenceRecovery and Square Cash at $DSAFlorenceRecovery. You can also find a list of needed materials and physical locations to donate them to here.

If you are interested in getting involved, there is a volunteer intake form here, and you can contact the Working Group at FlorenceRecovery@dsanc.org.