The real impact of progress

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The pleasure is mine to live on one of the few dirt roads still left in the county, or elsewhere in Eastern North Carolina.

I certainly do not want to leave the impression of being against progress, but the impact of what we have seen in recent years has been the creation of complicated, historic, and even chaotic events and issues.

It all seemed to begin with the advent of shopping center malls and highway bypasses.

The two combined to result in a death sentence to downtown districts, the neighborhood concept, and small communities.

Since then it has been a downhill ride.

The massive eruption ate up acre after acre of farmland and woods, leaving nowhere for water to go once the streams and rivers were filled.

It all boiled over in Eastern North Carolina in 1999 with a historic flood that devastated Wayne and other counties with rising waters from the Neuse, Tar and Cape Fear rivers.

Entire towns were destroyed by the so-called 500-year flood.

It erupted again in 2016 and 2018 when the Neuse waters reached record level.

Drainage systems simply could not handle the increasing flow of waters during heavy rains.

Homes were destroyed. Lives were lost. The loss to wildlife and farm animals exceeded imagination.

The destruction of infrastructure, including highways and bridges, totaled in the billions.

All of a sudden, the 500-year flood has become an every other year flood.

North Carolina lost more than 600,000 acres of farmland from 2002 to 2007.

In that five-year period it was all gobbled up by retail businesses, housing, offices and highways.

Nationally, 10 percent of the world’s arable acres lie within the United States, and agriculture contributes $992 billion to the American economy.

However, 31 million acres of farmland were lost to development between 1992 and 2012.

It boggles the mind, but that loss amounted to 175 acres per hour or 3 acres per minute.

We are seeing routine flooding now and attention is finally being diverted to decaying infrastructure systems totally inadequate to handle the change, or progress.

We have created a monster that is routinely drowning us, leaving destruction and despair.

I sure do miss those dirt roads that once abounded in the countryside.

They worked so well they didn’t even have speed limit signs on them.

Few wrecks ever happened on them as tractors and pickup trucks got along with one another.

We have made progress that has turned us into a soft, snowflake society.

Do youngsters of today even know what a cane fishing pole and can of worms is all about?

The progress also opened a Pandora’s Box filled with everything famed to be inside.

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune.

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