Tuesday, Sampson County Commissioner Sue Lee took an aerial tour of a devastated Sampson County. What she saw, and how she felt about what she witnessed, is a testament to the emotions we are all experiencing as we have watched this tragedy unfold.
In a Facebook post she wrote: “My heart is heavy as the day winds down. I was given the opportunity to fly over our county today, and I cannot wipe the images from my mind. Some of our friends and neighbors have suffered deep losses that will forever change them. The flooding was painful to witness. There were still water rescues going on…”
As of Wednesday morning, there had been 72 rescue missions by air or water. It is our worst nightmares come to fruition. What we have watched on the nightly news about other storms in other states, cities and counties is now happening out our back doors, to our fellow Sampsonians. While there were some serious issues after Hurricane Matthew, what we are seeing now is the worst we’ve experienced. It is harrowing and horrifying.
Like Lee, our hearts break for our neighbors and friends across Sampson who have lost homes, businesses and churches to the devastating winds and flood waters Hurricane Florence brought to our area.
No part of the county was left unharmed by the ravages of this violent storm, but it has been particularly hard on the southern end of Sampson, most especially in areas of Ivanhoe and Ingold.
For those of us already recovering from the storm and its aftermath, we urge first your prayers and then your action to help our neighbors in whatever way possible. They need us perhaps more than ever before and we hope each and every one of us will show our gratitude for having weathered the storm by helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Over the course of the next few days and months, rescues will end and recovery will begin. We will be needed like we’ve not been needed in a long time. We are certain there will be untold benefit efforts going on — from food distribution to clothing pantries, any number of fundraisings to help with shelter, food, apparel and countless other items we all just take for granted will be there. It is our hope that those who can will participate in some way, reaching out a helping hand to lift others up.
We know how quick Sampsonians are to help one another. We’ve seen it time and again. In fact, we’ve already seen it during this storm, as people have quickly come to the rescue of others, whether by feeding first responders and utility crews, donating water, helping saw limbs, opening up their homes and providing supplies. And we know it won’t end.
As we’ve already said from this page, that’s what makes this store bearable — knowing that from the devastation will rise so many good things, so many blessings that it will, eventually, outweigh the tragedy. The stories that will be told will be those of strength and courage, perseverance and amazing acts of humanity.
As Lee noted in her post: “On the other hand, this too shall pass. There is so much positive to focus on. People have stepped up to help at every level from sharing their homes to local businesses donating needed supplies, and some of our restaurants feeding those that were hungry …”
We won’t forget this tragic time in our county’s history, but it will be tempered with the strength of a people determined to rise above it and the love of one’s neighbor that will allow them to do just that.