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Hurricane Recovery—Wilmington Must Never Again Be An Island

We are grateful for the amazing efforts that have been extended by so many local social service organizations, our tireless non-profits and thousands of individual acts of kindness that are putting the Wilmington region back together again, piece by piece. And we continue to hear of donations still arriving from afar—food, supplies and financial resources to help the hardest hit get back on their feet. Clearly recovery continues to be Job One.

At the same time, other critical work requires the attention of the region, state and federal efforts. The headline above says it clearly—Florence reinforced a fact we must address. Our road system was broken. People could not leave and if they left early, they could not return. Neither could critical supplies and services reach our region. We were fortunate that many more lives were not lost in those appalling circumstances.

To have Interstate Highways I 95 and I 40 and other critical national and regional routes blocked is intolerable. Plans should already be underway to elevate portions that were flooded or otherwise prevent flooding with the inevitable next Florence. At one point it was reported that more than 1,000 roads were impassable. Let’s require the appropriate authorities to start fixing the most critical transportation corridors on a scale responsive to the danger to future evacuees, rescuers and resources. This is Job Two, and it must go forward in parallel with recovery of lives and property.

The greatest mistake that we as a region could make now would be to fail to plan for our future. It is Job Three, and none should neglect it. Without a plan, we lose precious, irreplaceable years in making the Wilmington region a better and more complete community. We need great jobs for our university graduates. We need to grow the businesses that drive our economy and provide more of the careers and professional advancement opportunities they represent. And, we must bring more business like them to our region with a strategy that build on what we have, and attracts more like them. We call that building our Economic Clusters. We’ve gone to work to strengthen those clusters and create more of them and to do it we need your help. We’ll tell you more about this in this series of reports, but we also welcome you to contact us now if you would like to help accelerate this process.

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