Monday night, without warning, a fierce storm torn through portions of Sampson County, leaving devastation in its wake. It was much like a week ago when a tornado touched down in the Autryville area, damaging several residences and the town’s fire department. In both cases, there was little for people to do except hunker down, pray and wait it out.
In the clear light of Tuesday morning, this week’s straight line winds left a swath of destruction as well — people injured, downed power lines, roofs torn from houses, 100-year-old oaks upended, pork and poultry operations wiped out, and citizens frightened and, in many cases, devastated by the losses.
While newspaper photos, TV news video and social media accounts showed the immediate horror of what had happened, what became clearer as the day wore on was not the destruction but the assistance that quickly followed the unexpected devastation.
On highways 701 and 421, Tyndall Bridge Road, Bearskin and Kitty Fork, droves of utility workers were hard at it trying to restore power to those who had lost it due to the downed lines. In yards across the county, neighbors, family and friends worked side by side cutting tree limbs, hauling debris, patching roofs and offering whatever kind of moral support they believed was needed.
The United Way of Sampson County was quick to the rescue as well, with some of its members hitching up the organization’s mobile assistance trailer and heading out to the hardest hit areas.
And, as is always the case, county emergency crews were on hand to assist in any way they could, too, the protector there when any of us need them the most.
Just as it was last week, Sampson County citizens responded in true Sampson County fashion — quick to help a fellow citizen in need, providing shelter, a hug and a lifted prayer, all in an attempt to make life just a little better for those suffering the most.
Helping one’s neighbor is always good to see, but it is especially true in times of great needs. We saw that kind of benevolence following Hurricane Matthew and last week in Autryville. It is the same compassion we are seeing this week as people begin to pick up the torn pieces of their lives and try to rebuild.
The tragedy of Monday night is made better because of the kindnesses that have already been shown, and many more that we know will be offered in the days and weeks to come.
We cannot ever be prepared enough for storms, particularly those that sneak up and give us a surprise punch in the gut, but even the worst of times are made better by the love we show one another in times of greatest need.
It is what sets Sampson County apart and makes us so grateful to be a part of something so special and so unique.