County Commissioners Must Address Impacts of Changing Climate


To the Editor:

The News Times recently asked Bob Cavanaugh, Carteret County Commissioner, to answer the question: “What can Carteret County do to better prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change?” His response: “I would recommend dressing appropriate to the weather.”

Neither Mr. Cavanaugh nor Mr. Clark, Republican candidates for Commissioner in District 3, answered the question. Their responses denied any need for the County to step up and address the effects of climate change we see around us. Storm preparation and response is very different from the long-term planning we need.


This is what I see: ineffective storm water drainage; loss of property; roads that are flooded even at low tide at various times of the year; increasing level of storm damage that doesn’t get repaired before the next storm comes through; decreasing property values and population; environmental degradation; and most tragically, extended homelessness.

If the county has an economic development strategy that focuses on attracting (wealthy) retirees to move here then we must have an equally strong plan to ensure Carteret County does not become a revolving door. What will happen when older people leave this area because their much-loved (expensive) houses are threatened yearly by storm damage? We know this is already occurring.

If we attract older people here, where are the support services they will eventually need? Where is the affordable housing for a younger generation who will be providing those services? Where is the commitment on the part of the Commissioners to ensure a livable minimum wage so workers will be able to afford that housing? Where will the elderly find safe and communal housing when they decide to leave their single-family homes? Where is the plan to allow us all to age in place and make our county “Age Friendly”?  As we do this planning, we will need to acknowledge the effects of climate change.

Carteret County’s need for a long-term plan for climate change can’t be met by a snide comment.

Who do we need as commissioners? We need thoughtful people who will be responsive to the needs of residents: Kathleen Colbert, Rosalie Ruegg, and Liz Ponder. Remember their names. You will be able to vote for them. 


Susan DeWitt Wilder

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