One of the most poignant and inspirational sights that followed Hurricane Matthew came in the days following the flood, and at the onset of a recovery that continues, even as another begins.
A member of the newsroom at The Robesonian was driving down West Fifth Street when he came upon West Lumberton Baptist Church, which sits just a couple hundred yards from the Interstate 95 bridge under which floodwaters from the Lumber River rushed to cause so much damage in that community and in South Lumberton.
At the south end of the church was a bulldozer that was leveling two structures, the parsonage and the old sanctuary, both of which were so heavily damaged that they could not be salvaged. At the north end of the church there was a line of about 200 people who had been victimized by the flood. They were being served a hot meal and provided items that would give them a bit of comfort as they attempted to reclaim their lives.
So as the church itself recovered, it stayed true to its mission.
We are tempted to say that Hurricane Florence has divided this community into two camps — those who need help, and those who are in a position to provide it.
But West Lumberton Baptist Church then — and again — is evidence that there are some with a foot squarely planted in each camp. The point, however, endures.
A week and a half after Florence arrived, essentially parked, and rained devastation on all of us, much has been accomplished. There are more tales of selfless heroism to be told than this newspaper could produce with a thousand scribes. We hopes folks are perceptive, and can tell the difference between those who did the work, and those who posed for photos.
Now it is the turn of the rest of us to do what we can.
Not everyone is capable of getting in a boat and pulling to safety people trapped by rising water; not everyone is capable of pooling the necessary resources to feed hundreds of people who are in need of a hot meal; and not everyone is capable of helping someone pull from their home damaged Sheetrock, flooring and furniture.
But most of us, not all, are capable of making a monetary donation to a charitable organization that will provide relief, or perhaps donate some items that we all take for granted until we are without.
There are plenty of charities that will help with the local recovery that are worthy of financial support, and we will not attempt to provide a comprehensive list because we know it would be incomplete. We do advise anyone who wants to write a check to vet the organization, and make sure the money gets where it is intended.
But one we don’t hesitate to endorse is the the United Way of Robeson County’s Hurricane Florence Relief Fund, which comes with the guarantee that every dollar will be spent on the recovery, and not a single cent on administrative costs. You can donate directly at the organization’s web page, by dropping by the office at 514 Peterson Drive, or mailing a check to United Way Hurricane Florence Relief, P.O. Box 2652, Lumberton, N.C., 28359.
If you have questions, call the organization at 910-739-4249.
If you want to take a more direct route to helping someone who has been affected, consider making a donation at the warehouse at 2300 N. Cedar St. that is being managed by both the city and the county. This was done following Hurricane Matthew, but lessons learned have led to some tweaking.
The warehouse is a collection site only, and donated items are being trucked to points of distribution that are strategically located in the hardest hit neighborhoods.
Some of the items that are needed include: toiletries; diapers, adult and children; baby formula; wet wipes; new underwear and socks; first aid items; factory sealed medications; cleaning supplies; canned goods; new bed pillows and blankets; box fans; hand sanitzers; water; work gloves; utility knives and related safety work items; flashlights; batteries; trash bags and boxes; general construction tools and equipment. They should be in original packaging.
On the do-not-want list are used clothes, shoes and perishable items.
For information, call 910-258-6954.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to help, no matter how modestly, we encourage you to do so. There are a lot of people yearning for a modicum of comfort that the rest of us take for granted.