Landfills, hazardous waste, hog farms: what lies in the path of Hurricane Idalia in North Carolina
Weather in southeastern NC expected to deteriorate today, with flooding likely in some areas; impacts could be felt in the Triangle
Note the green squares signify public/government lands, which were present in the National Weather Service map; these are different from the green circles, showing petroleum sites. (Flood risk overlay, National Weather Service; waste locations based on DEQ data; composite map by Lisa Sorg)
Hundreds of landfills and hazardous waste sites, as well as thousands of enormous hog and poultry farms are in the path of Hurricane Idalia, expected to arrive in North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon. Although by the time Idalia reaches the state, it will likely have been downgraded to a tropical storm, the National Weather Service is cautioning that all areas in southeastern North Carolina could experience moderate to major flooding, as well as treacherous rip currents on the coast.
The brunt of floodwaters can release chemicals, waste and other hazards into the environment, jeopardizing public health. These maps show the extent of the hazards that are vulnerable to flooding. Areas in red could experience major flooding from the pending storm, according to the NWS. Those in gold are prone to moderate flooding.
To see the hazards on a street level, go to the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Community Mapping System.
How to stay safe in contaminated waters
It’s critical to avoid environmental contaminants after a hurricane and flooding. For example, don’t wade in floodwaters, which could contain debris, chemicals, fuel, sewage, harmful bacteria and other pathogens. If you’re on a private well, and it floods, don’t drink the water or bathe in it, as it could be contaminated. And don’t turn on the pump because you could be electrocuted. The EPA has guidance about what to do after the flood if you rely on a well.
If you see an environmental accident, such as a chemical, coal ash, or fuel spill, overflowing manholes, hog lagoon breaches, or other water-related incidents, you can contact the NC Department of Environmental Quality at any of the following numbers:
- Wilmington office (counties in green): 910-796-7215
- Washington office (counties in navy blue): 252-946-6481
- Fayetteville office (counties in light gray): 910-433-3300
- Raleigh office (counties in purple): 919-791-4200
- DEQ on evenings, weekends and holidays: (800) 858-0368
North Carolina Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NCVOAD) is a coalition of dozens of private and faith-based organizations that help before, during and after a storm. This includes home repair, a diaper pantry, food, transportation, and assistance with pets and companion animals.
They have already met this week to prepare for the storm. A partial county list of contacts is here.
Community organizers Hannah Jeffries, Sallie McLean, Carol Richardson and the Rev. Mac Legerton of the Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development offer a free Disaster Survival and Resiliency School.
The goal of the school is to empower disaster-impacted residents in organizing, leading, and owning their disaster response in partnership with public and private agencies and offices. By teaching people how to prepare and recover from natural disasters, the cooperative hopes to keep neighborhoods united and intact.
Here are maps of the entire state, with the same waste facilities mapped and the flooding potential. The chances for flooding decrease west of I-95, shown on the maps in blue and green. Top to bottom: Concentrated animal feeding operations, hazardous waste and petroleum-contaminated soil, and landfills.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.