Individuals living in poverty, communities of color disproportionately displaced and affected
RALEIGH (October 18, 2016) — The damage to communities and the lives of thousands of people in Eastern North Carolina from Hurricane Matthew is only just beginning to be clear. Preliminary reports show those who are being disproportionately displaced and face the greatest need are individuals and families living in poverty and communities of color.
In the days and weeks ahead, it is critical that our state leaders thoroughly document the needs in these communities and pursue innovative approaches to meeting those needs. There will be gaps in available federal assistance and it will be incumbent on North Carolina to come up with the ways to provide relief to those that may be initially left out of the recovery.
North Carolina is no stranger to natural disaster and the lessons learned from previous events should guide the response now and in the future. Here are just a few of those key principles that should be front and center in our state’s response:
- Equity: It is already clear that low-income and North Carolinians of color have been disproportionately impacted; that is why the response must strive to ensure that the needs of all communities, particularly those who may be marginalized, are addressed.
- Coordination: It goes with saying that recovery efforts need to be coordinated. Besides coordination of federal, state, and local government assistance, coordination is critical for efforts coming from the private sector, including faith-based organizations, philanthropic organizations, community-based groups, and businesses, to name a few.
- Information: Those who are in need must know how to access the help available to them. Clear and constant communication with those individuals and communities facing homelessness, unemployment, hunger, and more must be a priority.
- Accountability: The experience of past disasters in North Carolina and the nation demonstrates how important it is that emergency response and rebuilding are held accountable to affected communities. This means ensuring donations are received and services are delivered.
- Responsibility: While there is a need to be innovative in pursuing the resources that will be needed immediately and in the long-run to rebuild communities, the responsibility to fill in gaps and serve the people of North Carolina should reside with state leaders.
The measure of our state is in our response to real crises and in our commitment to a long-term rebuilding of communities that is both inclusive and recognizes resiliency is a necessary part of our policy and investment strategy.