Local News

Floyd Relief Riding on Congress; Planned Pork Barrel Spending Has Some in Disbelief

Posted November 18, 1999

— A stormy congressional year is about to end. The Senate gave its final approval to passage of the $390 billion budget bill Friday. Many Democrats and Republicans are hailing it as a victory for the American people. But some people relying on some of that money are not so thrilled.

Money for Floyd relief is riding on this budget. But some eastern North Carolina flood victims say Washington can do a lot more.

Many flood victims understand that in spite of all the devastation, there are other things the federal government has to spend money on, but when they hear about what gets a higher priority, they get angry.

Sidney Scott's family lost more than a half million dollars thanks to Floyd's flooding. The hurricane destroyed his family farm's tobacco, his peanuts and his cotton.

"All these should have cotton fluffed out," says Scott as he points to his ruined cotton crops.

Scott cannot believe Congress will only give North Carolina half of the $2 billion in financial aid it is requesting. It is even harder to believe when you learn about the pork barrel spending planned for Alaska Senator Ted Stephens' district:

  • $2 million for a volcanic ash study
  • $2.5 million for foreign oil worker training
  • $9 million for a sea life study
  • $15 million for Aurora Borealis research at the University of Alaska

    "It's disheartening. [I] never have depended on the government for anything. Didn't need to. Now I think they need to help us," says Scott.

    Urban flood victims, like Wilbert Stephens, agree.

    "I mean we need all we can get," the Princeville resident says. He says the pork barrel spending can wait.

    "For the next two or three years, I think, [for a ] a human being, whether they have somewhere to eat, somewhere to sleep, have clothes on their back, is far more important than research on a sea lion," says Stephens.

    The bill now goes on to the White House.

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