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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard H. Moore, August 2, 2002. Interview K-0598. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of Hurricane Floyd on agriculture and industry

Moore describes the impact of Hurricane Floyd and the flooding on agriculture, the timber industry, and business. According to Moore, the timber industry perhaps suffered the worst consequences and he describes the potential environmental consequences of delayed clean up. Additionally, Moore explains that smaller businesses tend to suffer more than larger businesses, which tended to recover more quickly.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard H. Moore, August 2, 2002. Interview K-0598. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

RICHARD MOORE:
I think most counties have reevaluated the value of that position since all these hurricanes, and it's drastically better today than it was, say, in 1996.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Okay. That's great. Let me go back and just ask you a little bit more about specific sectors of the economy. Agriculture. A lot of farmers were not eligible for all the FEMA assistance that the ordinary person could get. How did the flood then impact agriculture and its viability as an industry? Of course, this comes in conjunction with the decline in tobacco. What's your perspective on the impact?
RICHARD MOORE:
I think long term most segments of agriculture withstood the hit fairly well. I think there were, not necessarily FEMA programs, but there was Department of Agriculture crop insurance, other programs that did try to bend over backwards to help them. Although I will tell you, there is one gaping hole there, and I know this because I am a tree farmer myself. There was a tremendous amount of forestry damage, and that is the one segment that was not reimbursed, compensated, tax credit, tax deduction, nothing, for any of these storms, and there were tens of billions of dollars worth of forest land damaged.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Pines especially, timber trees, orߞ?
RICHARD MOORE:
Actually hurricanes spawn tornadoes, and these tornadoes can get in valleys in forests. This actually happened on a farm of my own where it got in there, and it went through, and it just threw hugeߞthese were all hardwoods, hundred year-old hardwoodsߞthey threw them like toothpicks, hundreds and hundreds of trees. There were many, many. Floyd had less of a concentration than some of the other storms, but there was a tremendous amount of forestry damage. I think the remnant that we're seeing of that now, one of the problems that's still out there, is we had all this rain. If you think back to high school physics, you've had all of theses logs. Actually in a lot of places you've had road construction that blocked the flow of water. We need now somehow for these logs to break down and rot, purge themselves clean. We got some money from the federal government that the state matched to clean out streams, but I think the last estimate was we did less than one percent of the streams that were needed. That's a problem for the future. We've got a lot of clogged waterways out there.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Oh, great.
RICHARD MOORE:
I know.
LEDA HARTMAN:
When you talk about sustaining a flood again in the future.
RICHARD MOORE:
That's right.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Okay. That's interesting. Business. Were large businesses able to bounce back better than small businesses do you think, or was it about equal? How do you think they did?
RICHARD MOORE:
I think all the businesses did pretty well. I think we had a very, very aggressive SBA program, Small Business Administration, that came in with some very liberal underwriting rules, and if a business was making money before the storm hitߞand I'm not going to say that there are not some exceptions to thisߞbut I think all of them, large business are obviously able quicker to get up and running, but all of them were able to within a fairly reasonable amount of timeߞit's another one of the great things about our societyߞget their doors back open I believe. And, of course, there were both the federal taxes and state taxes. There were allowances made. There were ways that those businesses were helped. They were given more time, and in many cases their taxes were forgiven on some things. Credits and deductions increased. I'd have to say from my perspective they all recovered in a decent amount of time. All I know is we put the money out there in a hurry. We put the loans out there. That's another one of the lessons we learned. It's a time where if you scrimp in the programs that are out there, you will pay for it. One of the most important things you have to do in a storm, after that, is get in there and stimulate that economy. Make sure the money is there for people to rebuild their business, rebuild their towns, and get those sales tax dollars flowing, and get that economy back up and wide open.