This column was originally published on Oct. 16, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew brought widespread damage to Wayne County.
Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, and as I reflect on the past 10 days or so, there is so much going through my mind.
There is so much damage.
There are so many families displaced by this horrible storm.
There are people who have lost everything.
We have had some casualties.
There are businesses that have no inventory for the upcoming Christmas season.
Restaurants and grocery stores have lost entire inventories. There is an unfathomable amount of work to be done. All of the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew is overwhelming to me, and I am one of the lucky ones.
We were only without power for a very brief time, but I remember all too well the days and days without it after Hurricane Floyd came through the area in 1999. I feel for those who aren’t as lucky as my family is.
With the horrible devastation that is all over Wayne County, I am reminded of how special this community we call home is.
People are suffering, and there is much to be done. Well, look around, and I think you’ll love what you see; great things are happening all around us every day.
Neighbors are helping neighbors.
Total strangers are stepping up to help others rescue animals, prepare meals, donate greatly needed supplies to the Salvation Army and area shelter dropoff points.
All over town I hear people asking what they can do or how they can help. I’ve read about clothing collections being started, Boy Scout troops holding canned food drives to restock our Salvation Army's bare shelves and families helping others clean the debris left behind by the wind and rain.
Downtown restaurants and area churches are preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for emergency crews that are here from all over the country to help us in our recovery efforts.
I’ve seen people posting offers of a hot shower or warm meal for those in need.
If you've read the News-Argus or watched any of our videos online, you've seen many of these uplifting stories that are unfolding every day right here at home — and they're everywhere: Goldsboro, Grantham, Mount Olive, Seven Springs, Pikeville, Fremont, Eureka and Walnut Creek.
People are stepping up to do what's needed, and that’s one of the things that makes Wayne County such a great place to live.
If you want to get involved, there is one thing I know you do NOT need to do: just show up somewhere.
It’s not that these organizations don’t need or want your help — but the efforts need to be organized.
We are lucky in that so many of us want to help, but if we all show up at the shelter to volunteer, the staff will be overwhelmed, and it’ll cause mayhem.
There are lists of items needed on several websites, and we have a number of drop off points in various areas of the county.
At this point, I’d recommend contacting the Red Cross office at 919-735-7201 or the United Way of Wayne County at 919-735-3591 with questions.
Be the good you want to see in your community!