It’s been said that disasters bring out the best in mankind. Unfortunately, it’s also true that they bring out the worst among us as well, but thankfully in smaller doses.
Following the April 16 storms, there was no shortage of stories about neighbors helping neighbors, and even strangers helping strangers, across the state, but all throughout Robeson County. But we are now hearing about the uglier side of mankind as many homes that were damaged by the tornadoes and subsequently abandoned, if only temporarily, have been vandalized, with thieves pulling whatever they can find of value out of the homes, from copper wire to furniture, appliances and electronics.
According to an Associated Press story that was published in Tuesday’s The Robesonian, homes in Wake, Cumberland, Bertie, Craven and Lee counties that were temporarily abandoned have been targeted. But we know that is a partial list, and it will continue to grow.
Absent from the list, however, was Robeson County, which didn’t quite duck the April 16 storms, but didn’t take it on the chin either. When asked on Tuesday, local law enforcement agencies weren’t aware of any looting that resulted from homes being abandoned in this county. Let’s hope it stays that way. This is refreshingly good news in a county that ranks among the worst in the state for property crimes.
We all remember the looting that occurred following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005 of Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.
Contrast that with stories that are emerging from Japan, which remains crippled by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated that country. About 13,000 are dead, and approximately the same number are still missing, and property damage will reach into the hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars. But there are no reports of looting in Japan; actually, the reports are of people who are going to great lengths to reunite property with the rightful owners.
We aren’t big on creating new categories of crime. But we recognize that it takes a special kind of depravity to prey on people who are already suffering because of a natural disaster. We hope law enforcement officials in counties where looting has occurred will be relentless in their pursuit of the bad guys, and that the courts will deal with them harshly.
And we hope that Robeson County continues to distinguish itself by having neighbors and strangers who extend a hand to help, and not to grab someone else’s possessions.