Hurricane Florence and Politics, NC

September 14, 2018—In politics as with the weather in North Carolina this Fall, the only thing normal is that nothing is normal.

The top story right now: the arrival of Hurricane Florence on the North Carolina coast. As I write this blog post, I am holed up near Charlotte, North Carolina, awaiting the hurricane as it crawls Westward across South Carolina toward the mountains of Western North Carolina. It is dumping unbelievable amounts of rain, complete with wind damage, as it goes.

Five people have already died, along the coast when Florence made landfall this morning, and so far, today, according to CBS Radio News (9/14/2018, 5 pm).

But this is September, the height of hurricane season in North Carolina, and damage and destruction like this from a hurricane at this time is normal. The only thing is, there is nothing normal about it.

I feel anxious about the storm arriving here, imminently, and have been preparing as best I can. The stores were all busy in the last few days, with shoppers swiping up all the bottled water at the supermarket, for example. I was able to buy a last six-pack of bottled water, myself. The newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, ran a story yesterday that included reports of similar shoppers, noting that stores were still re-stocking, at the time (9/13/2018, p. 1A).

The roads had a similar eeriness about them. At times, stretches of roadway were unusually empty, and at other places, at around the same time, the congestion was incredible. The highway going North, I-77, was unusually congested at one town North of Charlotte, in Huntersville, NC, for example. That highway is always congested there, at most times, but it was even more congested when I drove it, Wednesday. My main feeling was that it is high time to get off the roads, and stop driving, anywhere. I am happy to report that I am off the roads, now.

Although these are normal preparations for a hurricane, when not advised to evacuate, there is nothing normal about it. It does not feel normal, at all, either.

Photo of waves, general
© Daniel76 | Stock Free Images

Talking about politics at all does not feel normal right now, either. Suffice it to say, in the context of this hurricane and, later, tropical storm, I will keep the commentary on politics brief.

I would like simply to congratulate NC government officials for finally agreeing on the ballot for this November. The election is all set to go, as usual.

What was not normal about the process this year was the high level of litigation it took to bring us to the point of a final ballot. That is all resolved now, at least temporarily, through the election, but there was a lot of wrangling and lawsuits about what was going to be on the ballot, namely, the constitutional amendments, and about a candidate’s party listing, and of course, the federal, congressional districts. That is all set now for the election; then, the back-and-forth on the districts will continue.

In the context of recent North Carolina politics, perhaps this squabbling is not entirely unusual. The bickering in the courts this year was in the vein of the squabbling that has gone on in recent years in North Carolina. The bathroom bill of a couple years ago comes to mind. This year’s politics did not rise to that level, but it was in that recent tradition.

In politics in North Carolina this year, then, what was not normal was normal, once again. At the end of the day, also, we still have a certain level of normalcy that has been achieved. The election will proceed, of course, as usual.

The real story right now, however, is Hurricane Florence, which later, to the time of finishing this post, weakened to a tropical storm. I still await the heavier winds and rain to arrive, here in Charlotte. We are expecting about 24 hours of rain; then, the storm will pass.

What is unusual about this storm is just how slowly it is moving, now across South Carolina. Also, it hammered the coast of North Carolina, and somewhat, South Carolina, pretty badly. The storm surge and flooding along the coast, and just inland, was severe.

My heart goes out to all of the people affected, on the coast, and I await the rains now here in Charlotte.

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC

 

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