North Carolina Rep. David Rouzer On The Impact Of Florence

Sep 15, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Tropical Storm Florence continues into South Carolina today with rain and 50-mile-an-hour winds. It came ashore as a hurricane in North Carolina. The first deaths attributed to the storm are reported there in Wilmington. Congressman David Rouzer represents the area in the U.S. House and joins us now. Representative Rouzer, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID ROUZER: You're welcome. I'm sorry it's on this occasion, though.

SIMON: Well, we are too and our condolences to you and everyone in the district on the deaths of five people there. Do you know what happened?

ROUZER: I don't know the specific circumstances of all five. Certainly, as many people have probably seen in the news reports, a tree fell on a house and killed a mother and her infant. Her husband, as I understand it, was taken to the hospital. But that stresses a really important point. You know, for those that have the temptation to get out and walk around and drive, particularly when the rain has slowed down and the winds have died down a little bit, this wind and rain is going to come back, the rain in particular. And a lot of these trees are on such soft soil at the moment with all the rain, all it takes is just a little wind and, you know, it can blow right over on their car or on themselves if they're walking around. So it's really important for folks to stay in.

SIMON: Representative Rouzer, what does your district need to recover, both from the federal government and NGOs and people across America?

ROUZER: Well, all resources are going to be, you know, brought to the district and to the state. This is going to be a life-changing event - is a life-changing event already for many. And quite honestly, I'm going to give you a little bit of an unconventional answer perhaps. But I think patience is going to be really, really critical for everybody. You're looking at a thousand-year flooding. I just talked to Mike Sprayberry with EMS Emergency Management Headquarters here in North Carolina. He's the director and their models are showing a thousand-year flood. Basically, all of southeastern North Carolina is going to be underwater. That's more or less what that means. Folks have never, ever seen that before. Patience is going to be a real virtue throughout this recovery process. Power is going to be down for a while. Duke and all the electrical ops, they're going to have a bunch of folks - thousands, 20,000, 30,000 folks in trying to restore power, but it's going to take a little time when you have this type of flooding. You've got all kinds of rescue teams that are out there, search and rescue teams, that are going to be ongoing all throughout the week. And this flooding is going to be a continual thing probably for five or six days cause all this rain, even the 10 inches in Raleigh or more that they may receive, all of that's going to flow right on back down the rivers, you know, to the coast. And the water's just got nowhere to go. So folks need to be patient. They need to be very vigilant, continue to stay on guard and everybody help everybody and we're going to get through this fine. But it's going to be - it's going to be a challenge like most folks have not seen before.

SIMON: Representative Rouzer, in the half-minute we have left, any concerns about people rebuilding where their homes were flooded? Is that always going to be wise, to rebuild in what could be a floodplain?

ROUZER: Well, you know, that's an individual and community decision. And I think the most important thing is for everybody to work together, save as many lives as possible. I think there are going to be a lot of lives in danger as we move through this week with all the significant flooding that we're going to have. And then once we start in the recovery phase, those are all going to be good public policy questions and debates to have.

SIMON: Representative David Rouzer of the 7th District of North Carolina, which includes Wilmington. Thanks very much for being with us, Congressman.

ROUZER: Great to be with you, and when folks have casework issues, they can go to rouzer.house.gov. There's a lot of great information there to help them get started.

SIMON: Well, thank you, sir. And we are following the latest developments in the storm throughout our program today. You can stay with us here and online at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.