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A third weekend in a row lost to snow and ice? How crews, locals are dealing with fatigue on WRAL-TV at 6 — As the Triangle approaches it's 3rd straight weekend of winter weather, road crews and locals are facing the implications of a third "lost weekend". On WRAL-TV at 6, how people around the Triangle are dealing with fatigue of winter weather.
Published: 2019-09-15 06:00:00
Updated: 2019-09-16 08:33:03
By Bill Leslie, WRAL contributor
Hurricane Floyd was an environmental horror story.
Doug Rader, chief oceans scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, remembers "coffins floating, dead animals floating and coming up for many months after the storm."
WRAL is among 250+ media outlets producingstories on climate change during the week leading up to the United Nations climate summit on Sept. 23, 2019. Our focus will be on impacts of climate change especially in central and eastern North Carolina.
Sept. 21: WRAL Documentary: Sea Change
WRAL's coverage aligns with the NBC News special series, "Climate in Crisis," focused on the most important issues affecting the global environment. Look for stories from the melting Arctic, the Florida Keys, New England, the Amazon and more all week on TODAY and on NBC Nightly News.
An entire year’s worth of pollution was released in a single storm – chemicals, hog waste, human waste from septic tanks and city sewer systems.
“A veritable flood of pollution, a witch’s brew of every kind of pollution you can imagine into the most precious of NC’s coastal waters," Rader said.
Experts like him had long thought, Rader said, "The solution to pollution is dilution."
But that changed after Floyd.
"The concentrations of pesticides and other toxicants were surprisingly high," he said, especially in estuaries like Pamlico Sound, a crucial nursery ground for fish.
"The toxicants that are in it are just waiting to be absorbed into worms and clams that are eaten by fish that are eaten by people," Rader said.
But the lessons of Floyd were short-lived.
"Generally, if you look at the entire landscape, we are nearly as vulnerable today as we were in 1999," Rader said.
Despite some buyouts by the state, eastern North Carolina still has hog farms in flood plains.
"In many ways, the swine industry in North Carolina remains a disaster yet to happen again," he said.
And people continue to live and build in places that will surely flood again.
"The future will be wetter," Rader said. "The future will have more intense storms. So we need to get to work."
That means factoring climate change into every public infrastructure and environmental plan.