- A class-action lawsuit filed this week alleges CSX did not do enough to build proper hurricane resilience infrastructure and therefore contributed to flooding in Lumberton, North Carolina.
- The plaintiffs argue CSX had several opportunities to build a floodgate or sandbag a railway underpass it owns in the city ahead of Hurricane Florence, or work with city officials during the storm, but failed to do so.
- The lawsuit cites a North Carolina Emergency Management and state transportation department report, claiming a floodgate could have reduced 80% of the damage from flooding, "saving about 2,000 buildings and $232.6 million."
The case filing provides a detailed account of the events leading up to the class-action lawsuit, evidenced by media reports:
- Sept. 10, 2018 — Lumberton city officials request permission from CSX to build a sandbag berm across the underpass. CSX denied access.
- Sept. 14, 2018 — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issues emergency order to build the sandbag berm on CSX property.
- Sept. 17, 2018 — The sandbag berm breaks around 2:00 p.m. Politicians blame CSX.
- Sept. 21, 2018 — Reports project the Lumber River may flood again.
It's not the first time CSX has faced scrutiny in this region of North Carolina. When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, "waters of the Lumber River flooded through the CSX railway underpass, causing substantial damage to Lumberton and displacing more than 1,500 Lumberton residents," the lawsuit alleges.
The event led North Carolina Emergency Management and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to release a report on proper strategies for mitigating flooding in the Lumber Basin, suggesting floodgates. Following the report, $3.5 million in funding was made available for floodgates in North Carolina.
The railroad sent a statement to the Jacksonville Business Journal earlier this week, noting the company does not "comment on matters before the court." However, "It is important to point out that Hurricane Florence was an extraordinary storm that brought record flooding and left many communities throughout the region devastated including Lumberton."
The full case can be found in the embedded document, below.