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On Tuesday of this week, my husband and I traveled to Hampstead, North Carolina, near Wilmington, to help our daughter and her family with issues following Hurricane Florence.
On the way there, we realized that more flooding was imminent in some places and that we might have difficulty getting back home. My husband serenaded me with some of his favorite Harry Chapin songs to try to keep me calm.
Our daughter’s family were among the fortunate, having their power restored on Sunday afternoon and not having lost their home to flooding or serious wind damage.
Thousands of others are not among the fortunate.
While we were there, one of our grandsons got the following message from a friend: “I heard that you have power at your house.” Yes, they had power restored within three days, a miracle for that storm-ravaged part of the state.
I began to think of messages other young people might have gotten from their friends: I heard that your home was not flooded; I heard that you still have water and sewage in operation; I heard that fallen trees did not destroy your house; I heard that you had a generator and fuel when your power was out; I heard that the grocery stores around you have opened and that they have food and water; I heard that you might miss only two weeks of school and that we will miss a lot more than that; I heard that you are not stranded in your house without means to get help; I heard that your dad has a job to go back to whenever all this is over; I heard that none of your loved ones lost their lives in this hurricane.
This storm has left many with unbearable grief.
Citizens in our area remember clearly the flooding and damage to human life from the effects of Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and the ways lives were turned upside down. They may also remember how so many people gave an outpouring of love, compassion and help during that time.
While we were there on Tuesday, we saw helicopters dropping food, water, medical supplies, clothing and other needed items to people who were stranded in their homes and could not get things to survive.
We saw military personnel from the National Guard and Marines from Camp Lejeune, out in force, helping in so many ways.
We saw, of course, police, Highway Patrol personnel, firefighters and other first responders, most of whom were away from their own families in order to help citizens in need.
On our way back to Wilson on Wednesday, we witnessed an outpouring of love, compassion and help from individuals and agencies that were traveling to the eastern counties in droves with supplies to help those who are experiencing a “red-hot hour” in their lives, as some have said.
We saw dozens, no, hundreds, of utility vehicles, surely from other parts of North Carolina, as well as other states, hurrying to restore power to thousands of homes, businesses, schools, medical facilities and other places.
We saw hundreds of huge trucks transporting heavy equipment, transformers, building supplies, fuel, food to restock grocery stores and restaurants, water and many other needed items.
We saw numerous vehicles from the Red Cross, countless disaster-relief trailers from churches and civic clubs, all filled with people and supplies to help.
We saw thousands of private cars and trucks, filled with people going to the area to help others or trying to return to their homes to see what is left after the storm.
All the above was on just one highway.
Some people are panicking and struggling in ways that most of us might not understand.
An outpouring of help and compassion will need to continue over a period of weeks, months and maybe even years, just as it did following Fran, Floyd, Katrina, Maria, Harvey, Hugo and Hazel and other disasters from around our country and our world.
All of us need to be in a continual state of compassion, unity and readiness with our time and financial resources to help our brothers and sisters in need everywhere.
We do not have to look very far to find ways to help. Our young people are more and more serving as examples of compassion. We hear reports of individual classes and entire schools and youth groups that are pitching in to help the community and other areas in their time of need.
Finally, to repeat an idea from last week’s column, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, “My friends! Let us try to be helpful, if we are worth anything.”
I would also add that we need to be helpful to our brothers and sisters all around us, not just in a “red-hot hour” of their lives, but in all times and places where there is need for physical or other types of healing.
Can we train ourselves to be helpful with love, compassion, work and financial support on a continual basis?
Yes, we can! Let’s get busy.
Sanda Baucom Hight is retired from Wilson County Schools after serving as an English teacher and is currently a substitute teacher in Wilson County. Her column focuses on the charms of home, school and country life.