North Carolina hurricane victims take a lesson from Iowa Flood Center

Hurricane Florence as seen from space (via flickr). 

Julia Poska| November 15, 2019

A North Carolina mayor hopes to make his city more resilient against flooding following hurricanes using a method he learned from Iowa experts.

At the end of August, the Iowa Flood Center hosted a “flood resilience learning exchange” for 20 scientists, conservationists, farmers and officials from North Carolina communities impacted by devastating flooding from recent hurricanes. The two-day event featured talks from Iowan experts, a tour of Cedar Rapids’ flood infrastructure and a visit to a farm implementing such strategies.

News source reported this week that Mayor Dontario Hardy of Kinston, North Carolina had been advocating for increased funding for flood resiliency projects since attending the event almost two months ago.

In just the past few years, Kinston–located along the Neuse River– faced widespread flooding after Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Florence (2018). Though the Iowa Watershed Approach was not developed with hurricanes in mind, the basic concept–implementing conservation practices on land that will reduce the speed at which precipitation enters and floods our waterways– can apply to all types of flooding.



North Carolina policy increases state’s vulnerability to storms like Dorian

Photo by Pixabay on

Tyler Chalfant | September 3rd, 2019

As Hurricane Dorian hits the southeastern coast today, several of the states in its trajectory are particularly vulnerable due to policies that have ignored the reality of climate change. In North Carolina, lawmakers have limited the ability of scientists to make long-term predictions about sea level rise, and encouraged developments on the low-lying barrier islands which may make the shoreline more vulnerable.

Dorian has already been uniquely devastating to the Bahamas, where at least five people have been killed and as many as 13,000 homes destroyed. The hurricane slowed to a virtual standstill over the island, following the pattern of Hurricanes Harvey and Florence over the past two years. Warm water causes storms to move more slowly and intensify more quickly, so as the planet’s oceans and atmosphere warm, this trend is likely to continue. Dorian makes 2019 the fourth year in a row to have a category 5 hurricane, which is the longest streak on record. 

The barrier islands along the lower part of the North Carolina’s shoreline are being gradually pushed towards the mainland through natural erosion as sea levels rise. Recent tourist-driven developments, largely subsidized through the National Flood Insurance Program, attempt to hold the islands in place by replenishing depleted shorelines, making them more vulnerable to storms and to being washed over from both sides.
In 2012, the state’s Coastal Resources Commission chose to ignore its scientific advisors when they issued a report projecting 39 inches of sea level rise by the end of the century. Saying they wanted forecasts to be based on historical rates, the lawmakers placed a 30-year limit on the forecasts that could be made. As the science advisory panel prepares to update its sea level rise report later this year, this limitation may be removed.

UI partners with North Carolina company for biomass project

Miscanthus is a perennial tall grass grown and burned as an eneergu source on the UI campus. (Wikimedia Commons)
Miscanthus is a perennial tall grass grown and burned as an energy source on the UI campus. (Wikimedia Commons)

Nick Fetty | March 17, 2015

Repreve Renewables, LLC has been selected to provide agricultural and business development services for the University of Iowa’s Biomass Fuel Project.

The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company will employ its Accu Yield™ System, “a proprietary, precision agricultural system, to plant and establish giant miscanthus.” This system is able to reduce the cost of establishing the plant while also increasing yields, making it a more economically-feasible renewable energy option.

“The University of Iowa is a leader in sustainability, just as Repreve Renewables is a trailblazer in biomass production and logistics,” Repreve Renewables CEO Jeff Wheeler said in a press release. “The Biomass Fuel Project provides the opportunity to achieve breakthrough renewable energy solutions. Working as a team with the local community, we can create new revenue sources for farmers and landowners, improve the soil, mitigate erosion and runoff, and increase the use of renewable energy to reduce the carbon footprint. We are honored to be a part of the University’s 2020 Vision.”

Miscanthus is a perennial tall grass that the UI Power Plant has used as a biomass fuel source in recent years as part of the 2020 Vision aimed at reducing the campus’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Repreve Renewables will now begin to procure land commitments for approximately 2,500 acres in the Iowa City area. This includes the Eastern Iowa Airport where the plant will not only be harvested as a renewable energy source but also as way of improving soil and water quality by mitigating the effects of erosion in the area.

New hog waste technology out of North Carolina shows promise

Photo by ekornblut, Flickr

Three months ago, the Iowa Environmental Focus created a radio segment on recent environmental practices in hog waste management.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times posted an article on another hog waste management technique being used near Yadkinville, North Carolina.

With funding from Duke University and Google, a North Carolina hog farmer installed a waste-processing system that digests hog waste and converts the methane from the waste into electricity.

As a result of this waste-processing system the hog farm has less environmental impact, less odor, healthier hogs and a cheaper energy bill.

For the full article, click here.