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Tom Campbell: In NC, we’re at our best when times are worst

Writer

Tom Campbell, former assistant state treasurer, is creator/host of NC SPIN, a weekly television discussion of state issues.

It happened once again with Hurricane Florence. Whenever North Carolina is in crisis — such as with storms or other catastrophes — we collectively rise to the occasion. Politics, rivalries and past animosities disappear, and we witness the best of humanity.

We have to commend state and local governments. It seemed Gov. Roy Cooper was on TV almost as much as Jim Cantore, updating us on the storm’s progress and giving us valued information.

Mike Sprayberry and the leaders from all state agencies worked continuously in Emergency Management to anticipate and address needs. DOT Secretary Jim Trogden and his agency constantly updated road conditions and warned us of danger zones. Secretary Mandy Cohen and the Department of Health and Human Services worked to ensure health services were available.

Local governments worked under adverse circumstances to protect and serve.

A DOT official told us that an estimated 700,000 heeded the admonitions and evacuated to safer places, but our hearts were especially warmed when our National Guard and other first responders risked their own safety to rescue others who stayed. And how can we ever repay the thousands of men and women from other states who came to get our power, water and roads restored and provide basic services for us?

Let’s also give a shout-out to our state’s broadcasters, who deployed staff all across the state and provided wall-to-wall coverage of the storm’s progress and damage.

Some criticized them, especially TV meteorologists, for what they considered “hyping” the potential dangers; however, they fail to recognize both the unpredictable nature of weather events or the reality that we are far better served if weather conditions turn out better than might have been once predicted instead of being surprised if they are worse.

Thanksgiving is also in order for the thousands of individuals, church and civic groups who came to help, often sacrificially. Caring, generosity and assistance are the marks of a strong community and civilized culture. They will be needed even more in coming months.

But tragic circumstances also sometimes bring out the worst in humanity, those seeking to profit from our misfortune. Many legitimate businesses genuinely offer service, but some are charlatans. Carefully consider offers for help and ask to see licenses, references or any other proof of legitimacy, especially if large sums of money are involved. Get proposals in writing. Consult those whom you trust before agreeing to a contract and never pay in full in advance of a completed job. Legitimate businesses will respect and accept reasonable conditions.

We must also be cautious in giving to those who ask for cash donations, either in person, by phone or over the Internet. Make sure they are recognized, legitimate charitable organizations. Ask how much of your contribution will actually go toward those in our state, along with when and how that help will be provided. Be reluctant to give out credit card information unless you are satisfied it will be handled securely.

But even as we urge caution, let us reaffirm that difficulties bring out the best in us. This will be a lengthy recovery process and we will need to be patient and demonstrate good will toward others. We should all do what we can to help our neighbors in restoring their lives, proving once again our state motto of being rather than seeming.

Tom Campbell, former state treasurer, is creator/host of “NC SPIN,” a weekly discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV main channel Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. Contact him at www.ncspin.com.

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