• 68°

Tom Campbell: In the path of the storm

Author

Tom Campbell

We should start a petition for the National Weather Service to eliminate names starting with the letter “F” in naming storms. Fran, Floyd and now Florence have wreaked havoc with property, disrupted people’s lives and have been the cause of too many deaths.

When old timers talk about hurricanes, Hazel is generally the benchmark by which they judge other storms. I was 9 in October 1954 and remember Hazel 64 years later. My dad was manager of WNCT-TV in Greenville and they had just completed construction of an 800-foot tall TV tower; he stayed awake all night worried it might fall and the one-year old station might go off the air. Hazel eroded our beautiful sloping beach at our vacation home on the Neuse River, washing so much sand into our concrete block house that we used water hoses to wash it out.

I don’t think I made this up, but I remember there used to be a drive-in theatre on Highway 70 approaching Morehead City, just in front of the old Greyhound race track. The movie screen had blown away, but the marquee remained and someone had put up letters that said “Gone with the Wind,” promoting not the movie by that name, but the loss of their business. Even if not true, it is a good story that shows people’s resilience and sense of humor.

North Carolina felt like hurricane alley during the 1950s and even into the ’60s. The year following Hazel, we suffered again from Connie, Diane and Ione, all of which created further beach erosion, property damage and stymied recovery efforts.

The advance preparation for Florence has been unlike any we’ve seen. Even before it was officially designated a hurricane, or its course more definitive, people began preparations — by Tuesday it was almost at fever pitch. Power generators were gone by Sunday and long gas lines became the norm at almost every outlet. I heard one manager in a chain grocery store remark that by midweek they had already surpassed their biggest sales week ever. Frantic shoppers had emptied shelves of water, along with bread and canned goods.

But even as everyone was hurriedly trying to prepare as best they could, there was a good humor present. We all recognized we were in the same boat, that we could not change the course of this storm, that we might likely lose power for several days and have to rough it without air conditioning, TV or the Internet. The guy or gal behind you in the checkout line had the same concerns and felt the same urgency.

Our better angels emerge in times of crisis. North Carolinians help people they don’t know with debris removal, reconstruction, food and clothing and other acts of kindness.

Our state and local governments also respond to the challenges, keeping us informed and helping people who don’t heed calls to evacuate. Utility workers brave mosquitoes, heat and foul weather to restore services. First responders and medical personnel work endless hours caring for and comforting us.

We fear for our possessions, but in this time we realize that they were just things and that people’s safety is the ultimate concern. Let’s put ourselves in the path of helping others.

Campbell, former assistant state treasurer, is creator/host of “NC SPIN,” a weekly discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. .

Contact him at www.ncspin.com.

Comments

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras

Education

Educators reflect on Teacher Appreciation Week

Education

Livingstone College wins $30,000 Home Depot grant

Education

Shoutouts

News

Shield-A-Badge With Prayer program enters 26th year, accepting volunteers to pair with officers

Education

COVID-19 infection, quarantine numbers in Rowan-Salisbury Schools reach new highs

High School

High school football: Offensive line came together for Hornets, who play for state title tonight

Local

Pro baseball: White makes pro debut and says, ‘It felt amazing to be out there’

Education

West Rowan Middle eighth grader wins investment writing contest

Local

YSUP Rowan invites agencies to participate in youth-focused training

Nation/World

US backs waiving intellectual property rules on vaccines

News

As demand drops, Cooper visits vaccine clinic to urge usage

News

NC lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

News

N.C. bill banning Down syndrome abortions nears floor vote

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman