The environmental impacts of Florence we feared

Half a million customers without power. Hundreds of roads washed out. At least thirty-one people killed, including a three-month-old infant. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and all those whose lives are forever changed by this devastating storm.

Now we’re starting to hear news of long-term environmental impacts. There are news reports of coal ash releases and flooding caused by Florence floodwaters in Wilmington and Goldsboro, NC, as well as the threat of overflowing waste pits from hog farms.

The worst isn’t over.

With the threat of waters from coal and hog waste pits flooding downstream towards the ocean, and at least one tornado that spun off of the storm, we’re talking about an impacted area that’s 250 miles from end to end. The health and safety of millions of people are at risk.

They need our help. Local organizations like North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, ACT Against Coal Ash Coalition and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC are working on the ground to assist people impacted by this “storm of a lifetime” and address longer-term environmental damage. Your emergency gift of $5 or whatever you can give will go a long way as this punishing storm continues to churn across the Carolinas.

Can you make an emergency gift to the Sierra Club’s Hurricane Florence recovery efforts now? 100% of the funds you donate will go directly to the nonprofits serving the communities affected most by this devastating storm.

While the extent of the environmental destruction wrought by Florence may not be known for some time, we do know that 2,000 cubic yards of coal ash — known to be toxic — was spilled at Duke Energy in Wilmington, compounding what is already a public health crisis.

Just two years ago, Hurricane Matthew caused a massive coal ash breach and submerged dozens of hog and chicken facilities, compromising pits containing millions of gallons of hog manure. We now know what low-income communities in rural areas face — particularly when they don’t know whether their soil and water are safe.

Activists on the ground are already working on a long-term recovery and prevention plan to guard against future weather events — even as emergency and nonprofit workers continue to rescue, feed, house and help our neighbors still suffering in the storm.

Please, donate what you can to the locally-led organizations that will be doing the cleanup AND taking care of our neighbors in the weeks and months to come.

Our thoughts go out to the 20,000 of our neighbors taking refuge in shelters, waiting to see if they have anything to go home to, as well as those still waiting for the worst.

And our thanks go to friends like you for helping make sure our partners on the ground have what they need to save lives and begin to repair the communities hit hardest by this unforgiving storm. We’re grateful for your support at times like this.

Sincerely,

Molly Diggins
Director, North Carolina Chapter
Sierra Club

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