Most people couldn't wait to get out of the shelter; some people couldn't wait to get back into one.

September 21, 2018

         If you don't remember the song by Canadian songbird Anne Murray called "A Little Good News," consider yourself lucky.
      Its title notwithstanding, the 1983 song was a three-minute lamentation on robbing liquor stores, arson, murder and assorted mayhem.
      And that was just the first stanza. You were going to need a strong drink after listening to that sucker.
      Despite Anne Murray's inability to deliver good news, though, we all could use some right about now. has found some in a most unlikely spot - at the North Carolina coast.
      "Say, son," you ask, "wasn't that area just ravaged by Hurricane Florence, leaving thousands without shelter and electricity for days?
      "What good news could you possibly find there?"
      When the storm first started battering the state, I called or texted friends who live near the coast. Most were fleeing and couldn't - understandably - take time to give updates on their condition.
       When I reached by phone a friend who lives right outside Wilmington, she said her family and she had been away from home for seven days.
       They were safe - they stayed with a relative near Winston Salem - and could hardly wait to return home. They also had no idea what destruction they would encounter when they did.
       The answer: very little, all things considered. Yes, some trees were damaged and huge limbs made the driveway impassable, but the crib itself was undamaged.
       That's great, I said. How'd y'all celebrate? Going out to dinner? Uncorking some Champipple? (That's Champale and Ripple, for the uninitiated.)
       Nope, they immediately went to a local shelter - W. Brunswick High School - to help people whose homes had been heavily damaged, if not destroyed.
       Do you mind if I write about your family's volunteer spirit? I asked.
       She demurred, saying - wrongly  - their volunteer spirit was "no big deal... Everybody's helping out," she said, "and they're bringing their children. I see a woman who brought her son - he's about 10 - and she has him helping out folding clothes" that have been donated to people who've lost everything.
      That's North Carolina - nay, that's America - to me.


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