09/05/05 — Americans are stepping up to help — so should we

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Americans are stepping up to help — so should we

The stories from Louisiana are heartbreaking. There are thousands of people who are not only unsure whether they will have a home to go back to, but also if they have a family left to share it with.

And that is just the ones who are still looking. Some families have already been torn apart by the effects of this killer storm that seems to have left two states shell-shocked.

Who can forget the plaintive cry of the man who had to choose between saving his children and holding his wife’s hand. He had to let her go.

Those are the images that will remain with many of us as we sit with our families and watch the news reports from Mississippi and Louisiana.

This weekend help finally arrived for the residents in New Orleans, some of whom have been stranded at various locales throughout the city. And although money has been pledged to help fund the cleanup and reconstruction in both states, it will be months before residents can come close to returning to a semi-normal life. It will be years before the region will be fully recovered.

The citizens in the area have pledged that they will master this challenge as they have bested so many others. And although there have been some low points, most of them are already working to help each other.

And that feeling of rising again is one with which eastern North Carolina residents should be very familiar.

When Hurricane Floyd hit eastern North Carolina in 1999, this region had to gather itself up and start again. And it wasn’t easy.

Those who lived through the battle said they counted on each other — and were heartened by the generosity and compassion of strangers, many of whom gave anonymously.

So whether it is $10 raised by a lemonade stand fundraiser or a few items added to the donations bound for the flood-ravaged area, those gestures mean something to families wondering where to turn next. It reminds them there is hope.

There will be wonderful stories coming from all over the country about the generosity of Americans. There are already towns across the country that are welcoming evacuees into their homes and hearts. That is what we do here for each other.

We will open our homes, our wallets and our hearts to strangers, just as the rest of the country did for so many of those who rebuilt their lives after Hurricane Floyd.

Hurricane Katrina victims need us now, and we will be there.
That is what Americans do.

Published in Editorials on September 5, 2005 10:52 AM