New Poll: North Carolinians Strongly Support Infrastructure Investments in American Jobs Plan to Build Resilience, Lower Costs of Climate-Driven Extreme Weather Events
(Washington, D.C. – June 8, 2021) As the Atlantic hurricane season kicks off this month, a new poll finds a majority of North Carolinians support investing in nature-based approaches to reduce flood risk, such as restoring wetlands and reconnecting floodplains, as part of the American Jobs Plan to build resilience and lower the loss of life and high financial cost of recovering from hurricanes made more destructive by climate change.
EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, commissioned Morning Consult to conduct the survey. The poll gauges the opinions of North Carolinians on hurricanes and flooding — including the costs as well as solutions that federal and state governments can implement to help lessen the devastating impact of disasters and build long-term resilience. The following are major findings from the Morning Consult survey.
- 87% of respondents support preventive measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters before they occur, this includes 86% of independents and 81% of Republicans along with 85% of suburban respondents and 92% of rural respondents.
- 83% of respondents support natural infrastructure solutions to reduce flood risk, such as restored beaches, wetlands and marshes, including 80% of independents, 83% of Republicans, 84% of coastal respondents and 86% of inland respondents.
- Two thirds of respondents support funding natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan, with 65% of independents and 51% of Republicans in favor as well as 64% of coastal respondents and 71% of inland respondents.
- Three quarters of respondents view hurricanes and flooding as a problem in the U.S. with 76% (hurricane) and 74% (flooding) of respondents saying the costs of clean up and recovery has increased.
Explore the polling memo here.
“People in North Carolina are feeling the costs of more frequent and intense natural disasters like hurricanes and floods,” said David Kelly, EDF Action Director of North Carolina Political Affairs. “As North Carolina prepares for another above-average hurricane season, this poll shows that residents support efforts to create more resilient communities by taking action before disaster strikes. That’s why Congress and the Biden Administration should not just fund the clean-up and recovery after each storm, but make the necessary investments in solutions like natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan.”
“State-led solutions, like the two bills introduced in North Carolina’s House and Senate, are critical pieces of the puzzle. If enacted, they will help provide for a locally-informed, comprehensive approach to building flood resilience and better position the state to leverage federal disaster dollars. Through focused policy action at all levels of government, we can invest in a future with more good-paying jobs, and build communities that are better prepared for the next storm. “
Coastal communities are still reeling from the onslaught of hurricanes during last year’s record-breaking 2020 season, while experts predict another active season this year. 2020 was the most active hurricane season ever recorded. Through rising sea levels and warmer air and water, climate change is making hurricanes more powerful and dangerous.
Leaders at the state and federal government can act now to make investments that protect people, infrastructure and ecosystems from hurricanes and flooding, every $1 spent on disaster mitigation saves $6 in disaster recovery. One key solution should include fortifying our coastal ecosystems — such as barrier islands and wetlands — to serve as a first line of defense against storms and sea level rise. A study from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that a square kilometer of wetlands is worth approximately $1.8 million a year on average in storm protection.
Extreme weather events are getting more destructive and costly because of human-caused climate change, according to an EDF report commissioned last year by Datu Research that tabulates U.S. government statistics on the subject. Average annual costs of extreme weather have quadrupled since the 1980s, for a total of $1.75 trillion, with taxpayers footing much of the cost. The tangible costs of severe weather events are falling directly on North Carolinians. . More than 1,300 residential and commercial properties along the state’s coast, valued at almost $340 million, are already at risk of chronic flooding. By 2045, this estimate increases to almost 15,600 properties valued at almost $4 billion, threatening the local tax base needed for community services, like schools and hospitals.
The Datu report showed health impacts, as well. In the Wilmington and Fayetteville areas, emergency room visits due to heat stroke and other heat-related conditions are projected to increase two- to threefold from 2010 to 2050. In many cases, these costs and impacts will be disproportionately felt by low-income and socially disadvantaged communities that have fewer resources and options for protecting themselves.