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Interview with Lora Eddy

Lora Eddy on the impacts of climate change on the coast and what she has personally experienced: 

“I can certainly talk about my personal experience of climate change and what I perceive as local perceptions on this issue:  I have lived on the coast for 25 years and in the Outer Banks of NC the past 12.  Coastal communities are experiencing an increasing frequency of flood events from rainfall, storm surge, and sea level rise or wind-driven tidal events due to climate change." 


"Lately it has been just too much water from all those sources yet when I first arrived on the Outer Banks in 2008, we were in a drought and then in 2011 the Pains Bay Fire burned on the Dare mainland for 4 months, burning over 45,000 acres, costing $14 million to fight. That same year in August Hurricane Irene made landfall along the NC coast. So what we are seeing are extremes."


"I have heard the familiar argument that my community is resilient and has always adapted and dealt with change in the dynamic place we live.  And coastal living gives you a front row seat to change, so it’s understandable that sometimes long term residents find it difficult to discretely view the long-term effects of climate change from our coastal experience. Maybe we have become so familiar with images of Highway 12 over washing that it just feels like a part of coastal living. 

But these events are quietly becoming an issue for everyone, my personal experience of these impacts came after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. That year it seemed like the water table stayed high and eventually we had to replace our septic system and elevate it to move the drain field out of the water table so that it would function.  That was an expensive project around $5,000."


"Then in July 2018 our area had over 10 inches of rain over in a week with a total of 20 inches for the month that year, and our yard seemed to never dry out. The poor tourists were trapped inside their rentals for days on end. After Hurricane Florence in September 2018 we noticed water in our crawl space.  Luckily we noticed and had a dehumidifier installed before the humidity effected our home’s structural integrity.  Many friends and neighbors had the same issues and some had to replace floors or rip up subfloors and replace the joists or the girders which support the home’s structure. These changes are silently effecting our homes and communities in ways that the experts didn’t forecast or model.  Yes the seas are higher and storms have brought greater tidal overwash closing roads and access, but it has not captured this slow progression of change in our communities." 


"My role at The Conservancy is working on our Coastal Resilience Project to help communities examine nature’s role in reducing coastal hazards and a large focus is around the increasing impacts climate change.  I have started to see a shift in the conversation about climate but it is slow and at times a difficult conversation.  But there’s movement for example the Town of Nags Head and Duck have been looking into these issues particularly around septic systems as that will affect public health and impact water quality, one of our greatest natural resources and a big economic driver for this area."

"Both of these towns have made strides to adapt to our “new and future normal” receiving funding for innovative solutions and ideas that go beyond traditional engineering to include natural solutions such as using marsh to protect shorelines from erosion and storms.  They are embracing what is special about their coastal communities, using new ideas and funding for innovative, on-the-ground solutions so that nature and people can thrive together.  So while our challenges are big, our communities are stepping up.”

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