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Florence recovery requires unity

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At the time of this writing, we are experiencing the beginning of the end of the rain from Hurricane Florence here in the east. It’s still gray and windy, and even the slightest glimmer of sunshine would be welcome.

As most of you know, my family and I live in New Bern. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, we evacuated to Cypress Glen in Greenville, a senior living facility where my in-laws live. They were gracious enough to take us in to their two-bedroom apartment so we could get out of New Bern. Though it’s been cramped, I am very grateful for their hospitality and patience at this time.

We still don’t know how much longer we will be here, as the roads back to New Bern are impassable and there is a threat of flash flooding from the remains of Florence, which has moved on. All the water from points west has to go somewhere, and it will be coming this way. Estimates are saying we could see flooding surpassing that of Matthew just a couple years ago.

We are comfortable, dry and well-fed. We have power and internet. There are other families here who have taken shelter with loved ones. There is a true feeling of guilt, as there are thousands of people who are struggling with just the basic necessities in outlying areas.

Trust me, folks, wanting to help and needing help can sometimes feel just the same. I watch the footage on television and online and see my town flooded and I want to go home. Not to get back to normal, mind you, but to help those in need. There are still reports of rescues going on. The Cajun Navy, first responders from nationwide, local authorities and the Coast Guard have been freeing people from the flood zones. With the rains falling in the west, these flood zones in the east are only going to grow larger.

We were up all night as the storm came in, watching online as people began to reach out for help. Word would get out, someone would see it online, and together, we would send the information to rescuers. A personal friend was helped to safety because of the power of social media.

Social media has also allowed rumors and false information to spread like wildfire. There were reports of bodies floating out of a downtown New Bern hotel, until they were quickly quashed by the hotel staff themselves when they posted that nothing of the sort was going on and the guests were enjoying a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

I am not a reporter. I am not out in the streets surveying damage. I’m just a guy who writes funny stuff in the paper each week. I give credit and kudos to the reporters and photojournalists who are out in the elements now and in the coming days to bring you accurate information and facts.

Please, if you need anything at all, do not hesitate to reach out. Utilize the resources that are being provided for you. I highly recommend the ReadyNC app for your smartphone. This has been doing a good job of providing up-to-the-minute information about weather, road conditions, evacuation orders and such.

There will be a lot of recovery in the coming weeks and months. It can and will be done. It will not be easy.

Perhaps if we take the time to put aside our divisions and put our hands to work together, we will get through this. I remember the day of Sept. 12, 2001. National pride was at its peak and there were no divisions. We need this now in North Carolina.

If you have internet access and do not know where to turn for information and resources in your area, please post on my “Joe Weaver, Columnist” Facebook page, and I will do my best to assist you in finding help.

It is a long road we are traveling, but we are traveling it together.

Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life. His column normally appears each Saturday.

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