After the Storm: Rural, Mountain Regions Often Forgotten

Sep 17, 2018

When big Hurricanes hit, a lot of attention is focused on the moment they make landfall. But Florence is on track to bring a lot of rain inland and that could be a problem for the mountainous regions of Appalachia.

Patrick Roberts is based at Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region near Washington, D.C.
Credit Virginia Tech Photo

Virginia Tech disaster recovery expert Patrick Roberts points to another hurricane, Camille in 1969, that also took the unusual track of heading inland rather than up the coastline. It brought heavy rain, mudslides and flash floods.

“In the mountain areas, flash floods move with much more force than they do in the lowlands and they can really cause a lot of damage.”

He says after Camille the coasts were rebuilt, and beach towns even boomed.  “The communities that weren’t rebuilt were some of the poorest communities in the mountains.  And they’re not getting the media attention, or the public attention and they don’t always get the first attention of the planners because the storms come ashore on ‘the shore’ of course.”

Roberts teaches masters levels courses in emergency preparedness and the ethics of disasters recovery.

“At some point it will be time to start thinking about what do we do after the storm.  There’s going to be an economic boom in some areas, but some areas are going to really suffer, so it’s going to be time to pay attention to the poor and vulnerable communities that will need extra help to get back on their feet.”