Flood vic­tims face ma­jor hur­dles as vot­ing be­gins

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NORTH CAROLINA: As Keith and Feli­cia Scott looked at the ru­ins of their flooded-out house in North Carolina, the mold grow­ing up the walls and the loose floor­boards ly­ing wa­ter­logged at their feet, the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was about the fur­thest thing from their minds. “I know it’s some­thing we need to fo­cus on, but it’s kind of hard to fo­cus on that when you’ve got all this go­ing on,” said Keith Scott, a 49-year-old state prison em­ployee who lives out­side Lum­ber­ton, one of the ar­eas in­un­dated by Hur­ri­cane Matthew nearly two weeks ago. “Right now, you’ve got to find a place to live.”

Of the 130 mil­lion Amer­i­cans ex­pected to cast bal­lots this year, the thou­sands of peo­ple in North Carolina whose lives have been up­ended by the flood­ing face some of the big­gest chal­lenges. As in-per­son, early vot­ing be­gan Thurs­day in the state, some roads were still im­pass­able, bridges were washed out, and un­told num­bers of peo­ple were still out of their homes. Many were busy just try­ing to put their lives back to­gether.

Some of the most heav­ily dam­aged ar­eas are largely Demo­cratic with a high con­cen­tra­tion of black vot­ers, and there are con­cerns the dis­ar­ray might de­press turnout and sway the out­come of the White House race in this bat­tle­ground state, where polls sug­gest a tight race be­tween Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump and where Barack Obama beat John McCain in 2008 by a mere 14,177 votes out of 4.3 mil­lion cast.

The hur­ri­cane dumped more than a foot of rain up to 100 miles in­land, trig­ger­ing se­vere flood­ing across a large area of east­ern North Carolina. Towns such as Lum­ber­ton and Tar­boro were in­un­dated. As of Tues­day, more than 1,000 peo­ple were in emer­gency shel­ters; oth­ers were stay­ing with fam­ily or friends, their homes un­in­hab­it­able.

The Scotts said they still hope to vote. Oth­ers sounded de­ter­mined to do so. In Tar­boro, where signs block driv­ers from get­ting into some neigh­bor­hoods and piles of dam­aged dry­wall, car­pet, couches and other be­long­ings line the side­walks, 30-year-old Cordell Pet­t­away and his mother have a lot of work ahead of them be­fore they can move back into their home in a his­toric black neigh­bor­hood: pulling up sub­floor­ing, re­mov­ing wet fur­nish­ings and even­tu­ally get­ting the elec­tric­ity turned back on. —AP

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