Residents of Western North Carolina are faced with intense rainstorms, severe flash flooding, mudslides and swollen rivers that are harming our communities and businesses.

Hurricane Ida and Tropical Storm Fred are fresh and painful reminders of our region’s vulnerability to flooding. Tropical Storm Fred washed homes off their foundations and sadly took lives. Now communities are looking at years of recovery. Just weeks later, the High Country was back on alert as Hurricane Ida neared the state, and Watauga County experienced flash flooding and tornado warnings.

With an extensive flood resilience mitigation plan, we can start making the right decisions and investments to protect our communities, homes, businesses and even save lives. Thankfully this year, our leaders in Raleigh have taken significant steps to protect our state.

The House of Representatives’ recently proposed budget includes close to one billion dollars in flood mitigation funds, while the Senate budget included important funding for stormwater projects and plans. These are critically important investments for our state to upgrade, repair and maintain out-of-date and inadequate stormwater systems.

From the coast to the mountains, North Carolinians will be better prepared for floods today, thanks to flood mitigation funding and stormwater funding. This funding will help support innovative projects that will consider the ways flood risk can change across the state in the future.

The General Assembly is currently finalizing the budget for the next fiscal year. Sen. Deanna Ballard is a part of the Conference Committee working on this, and I encourage her to support efforts to fully fund flood resilience mitigation in the final budget.

Sen. Ballard and our other elected officials have a tremendous opportunity to put North Carolina towns and counties on the right track to prepare for flooding by developing, designing, and funding the most effective projects. We need a plan, and we need to invest in the solutions that can protect communities throughout the High Country from catastrophic flooding.

River Collins,

Boone

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