Standing on the banks of the Waccamaw River Tuesday morning in the little town of Conway, SC, where river flooding caused massive destruction when Hurricane Florence hit last September, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled a new disaster relief plan designed to help communities cope with such storms, which he predicted will grow more frequent and increasingly severe due to climate change.
"As a mayor, I’ve seen the frustration that sets in for local communities when federal disaster response falls short, or takes too long, or is delivered in a confusing fashion that leaves local authorities, nonprofits, and state officials scrambling to cover for gaps and delays," Buttigieg said.
"Climate change has only exacerbated the need to improve our disaster preparedness," Buttigieg said. "The science is clear: catastrophic weather events are increasing in frequency, intensity, and impact."
After receiving the key to the city from Conway Mayor Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy, he pointed out that Hurricane Florence was the second "1,000-year flood" to hit Conway in three years, a development he blamed on the impact of climate change.
"“That’s not natural,” he said, adding that the U.S. cannot simply “rearrange the weather with a Sharpie on a map.”
Some of Buttigieg's plans to help communities prepare for and recover from such disasters included establishing a disaster commission “on how we do response and recovery,” and
streamlining the application process for flood assistance.
He also plans to reform catastrophic flood plans and and said to uproarious applause that he would update flood maps “so they reflect reality.”
Buttigieg then stepped from behind the podium, with the now serene waters of the Waccamaw behind him, and began a conversation with the hundreds of local citizens who came to see the first presidential candidate ever to visit their town.
Answering questions in actual complete sentences and cogent thoughts, he said that if elected, he would:
End child separation policies of the Trump administration that are tearing immigrant families apart.
Cap the cost of prescription drugs, allow the government to negotiate prices, even for private plans, and severely punish manufacturers of new, life-saving drugs who price-gouge patients in need.
Establish a commission to evaluate ways to remove political influence from the Supreme Court.
Support H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African American descendants of slaves.
Invest $25 billion in historically black colleges and universities and direct $10 billion toward black entrepreneurs.
Build up a workforce of mental health providers and provide “billions of dollars in healing and belonging” grants.
Refuse to allow President Trump to change the subject and divert attention when he is embroiled in a controversy. “The less we’re talking about him, the more we’re talking about you,” he said.
And then, looking people straight in the eye and listening to their comments, the young candidate connected with attendees individually, leaving those who witnessed the event wondering if, indeed, they had just taken a selfie with the man who would depose Donald Trump and then lead our nation into the future.
“He’s a very refreshing candidate,” Ashley Thomas of Myrtle Beach told a reporter from MyHorryNews.com. “I like what he represents. We need to get back to some sort of moderation. Not so far to the left or the right.”
“I love to listen to someone intelligent, respectable, and who actually served in the military,” said Pat Andrews of Murrells Inlet.