People walk through downtown Southport on March 23, 2019. The down town backs up to the Cape Fear River near to where it spills into the Atlantic Ocean. The Brunswick County town boasts a variety of shops and restaurants with a population of roughly 3,730 in 2017. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press
The sun sets on fishers on the intercoastal waterways of Sunset Beach, North Carolina on March 23, 2019. Bridges connect the mainland to several islands created by the intercoastal waterways where communities lie between the smaller bodies of water and the Atlantic Ocean. [Melissa Sue Gerrits/For Carolina Public Press]

Welcome to The Kicker from Carolina Public Press, a North Carolina news show bringing you conversations with journalists, sources and newsmakers from across the state.

In this episode, Carolina Public Press’s managing editor Frank Taylor and Kicker host Peter Kent talk with CPP contributing reporter Michael Graff about his recent reporting on Brunswick County. The southeastern county is a contradiction — devastated by two hurricanes in recent years, yet the fastest-growing county in North Carolina. Graff’s reporting examines why, as well as how this is shaping the communities there, and the very different experiences of some other Eastern North Carolina counties.

Despite the devastation of Florence and earlier Matthew, retirees and others continue to drive up population numbers in Brunswick County. The growth is almost entirely in the area east of U.S. 17, near the coast. More agricultural rural communities located further from the coast have felt the full brunt of the storms but not necessarily the windfalls of economic growth. Despite widespread publicity about these storms, newcomers have not been discouraged from moving to the beachside towns along the Brunswick Coast.

About The Kicker

The Kicker is a production of Carolina Public Press. It also airs weekly at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on WPVM radio 103.7 FM in Asheville. Send an email to if you would like to contact the staff of Carolina Public Press about The Kicker.

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