The response to Hurricane Florence survivors living in one of North Carolina’s worst-hit towns has largely ignored the Black community there, local residents said one week after the deadly storm left devastating flooding and widespread power outages. At least 31 of the more than 40 people killed by Hurricane Florence died in North Carolina, leaving Gov. Roy Cooper to declare it was “like nothing we have ever seen.”
But the outcry from Black residents in the aftermath of a natural disaster is familiar, and this latest instance was no different, according to a report published in the Guardian on Thursday. There was reportedly a severe lack of resources — groceries, electricity, gas, for starters — in a largely Black neighborhood in the town of Wilmington, where residents in white neighborhoods have had their power restored and live near restaurants and other amenities.
Shacory Blanks, who lives in a mostly Black neighborhood in Wilmington’s Northside, told the Guardian she still didn’t have electricity to even charge her phone, let alone cook a meal (if she had access to fresh food, that is).
“I think [emergency officials are] going crazy or delusional because the easiest thing to get right now is drugs,” Banks said. “Everybody is smoking and drinking, but there’s no food being put in their body to balance them.”
It was no wonder there were reports of Black people “looting,” which could be seen as more of a desperate attempt for food to sustain residents in an area that didn’t make any resources available to them than a criminal act.
Another Northside resident told the Guardian that they were victims of racist circumstances that have helped to force him and his neighbors into survival mode.
“They don’t want you to come up. Look at where you at right now. All the white people around us got power. We got none,” Joseph Cobbs said. “No one comes to help us. So we help ourselves.”
As with most hurricanes, people living in low-income communities are hit the hardest. Most cannot afford to evacuate before storms hit and do not have the money to stock up on basic necessities like food, water and fuel, especially when stores practice price gouging.