The Flood We Make: Notes On An Unnatural Disaster


Human meddling with Mother Nature has progressed
for millennia. But never quite so effectively as now. In recent
years the combined effects of global warming and other such
ecologically unsavory practices as pesticide-heavy factory farming,
suburban sprawl, and the draining and paving of wetlands, have
magnified a string of natural disasters — from the flooding in
Mozambique and Honduras to the wildfires at Los Alamos — into
major human catastrophes.

One such ‘natural’ disaster was the record rainfall and massive
flooding that struck Eastern North Carolina in the fall of 1999,
writes Fetzer Mills Jr. in the summer issue of The

As we approach what’s predicted to be another severe hurricane
season, Mills examines the man-made nature of last year’s deluge
and the contaminants that turned the floodwaters into what one
state official called a ‘witches brew.’

‘On the banks of the Tar River the towns of Tarboro and Princeville
were hard hit by the flooding. Historic Princeville, the first
black township in the country founded in 1866 as Freedom Hill, was
completely wiped out despite a dike built in the 1970s to protect
it from flooding. Houses and trailers floated off their
foundations. Every building in Princeville was coated with a
poisonous, polluted slime as if a colossal venomous slug from a
Japanese sci-fi film had attacked the town.’
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