Two weeks ago today, Hurricane Florence came ashore as a Category 1 storm with plenty of might and no intention to be a quick visitor.
Bladen County will never be the same.
Flooding wasn’t the only thing measured in feet. Rainfall in Elizabethtown was a tick below three of them. The Cape Fear River crested at stages not seen since World War II.
Kelly braced to go under, the dike built after that historic September 1945 flood being challenged all through its 14 miles. Some parts of the community had water where it had never before been seen.
Near Clarkton and Bladenboro, more devastation. Flooding a week after landfall left White Oak a challenging destination to reach.
Help has come, and more will follow. It will be needed for a long time measured more in years than months.
In the immediacy, we’ve learned a few things.
There is a caring nature among neighbors here. We’ve had people take risks they shouldn’t have, make offers that were beyond their means and literally be willing to give the shirt off their back to help others.
We have awesome people in Bladen County.
We also have a caring region, state and nation. They’ve come from all over, as near as the next county, as far as Alaska.
Though we’re not aware of an official list, we’ll go ahead and guess that when all is said and done before the end of the calendar year alone, Bladen County will have been a stop for aid workers and volunteers from nearly every state in the country. We already know, in a mere two weeks, we’ve got about half of them.
Some are even “repeat customers,” meaning they were here for Hurricane Matthew assistance as well.
We can’t thank them enough.
And how about our namesake in Kentucky? Elizabethtown in the Bluegrass State warmed our hearts last week, offering adoption of our Elizabethtown. They’ve been loading a truck all week, and it’ll be brought here to help not only our E’town but the rest of the county as well.
Before the storm hit, we gave affirmation to our leaders throughout the county for their effort to help everyone get prepared. In particular, we noted the director of the Emergency Management Department, Bradley Kinlaw.
When a catastrophic event like Florence comes, there are a lot of agencies and entities that need cohesion to function effectively. As best they could, Kinlaw and his team have led.
Most impressively, it has been done with humility and compassion for the people of the county. The cool demeanor under such difficult stress is to be admired and should be practiced by other leaders.
Florence isn’t over. There’s a long way to go, unfortunately.
But together, we can move along. We have, and we will.