There are many phrases I could use to describe what I learned during Hurricane Matthew, a storm that assaulted our darling little town. Some of the things I learned already dwelled in the recesses of my mind. They were confirmed witnessing them in action. There were events that both surprised me and reinvigorated my long held hope that the Milk of Human Kindness still exists.

Opportunists Following a Storm

StormIt is also an unpleasant reminder regarding people that are remorseless and evil. They would steal the coins off a dead man’s eyes; those who seek to gain advantage during the desperation of others.

Finally there are those who are so consumed with greed they will exploit everyone they can in the name of profit. This is very often just the nature of humankind; not all mind you, just some. Sadly, this small percentage reflects all of us.

Typically in these circumstances, communities experience vultures that take advantage of darkness to fulfill their greed. Expecting this to occur, it was refreshing to see it did not happen.

Our thieves remained the same. They were the same one’s that steal from others to enrich themselves. Yet the staples of life were not part of their loot.

Powerlessness Caused by a Storm

The flip of a light switch, which can easily banish darkness, no longer held its power for hours. The television was not chattering mindlessly in the background during mealtime. People went outside and sat on porches, swings, rocking chairs, in their yards or even sat upon their steps in the cool night air.

Moreover, it was so dark that you had trouble seeing your hand in front of your face. If you walked the streets and neighborhoods, you could hear the hum of many conversations dancing through the air.

Recovery From a Storm

StormSuddenly people had opportunities for productive acts of service. Social media and the Internet became less important as family units huddled in their zones of comfort.

Graciously good people shared what they had and waited patiently for time to pass. It was not easy nor was it simple. It was unpleasant but they survived. Neighbors checked on one another. They made sure needs were met, no exceptions.

When the clouds were gone and the rain ceased to fall; when the waters receded and the winds died down to the gentle autumn breeze, people came together to clean up the mess the storm had left in its wake. Branches were retrieved from where they came to rest. Pine needles, cones and leaves were raked to be carted away.

Benefits of a Storm

The relational community that was enhanced recovering from the storm, remained in place once restoration was complete.

Neighbors helped neighbors move forward. Businesses had entire shifts of employees that volunteered to be a part of the cleanup. I’ve always said, “I depend upon those who show up.” They are the ones you know will be there when you need them.

As a city we discovered a new crop of helpful people of different ages, shapes and sizes. Despair and turmoil get so much news coverage, we forget to look around at all the good that is out there. There is nothing more refreshing for the spirit than a long drink from the chalice of the Milk of Human Kindness to remind us why we participate in these efforts.

Moving on From a Storm

I am not content allowing these memories to fade. It is my hope that we can remember what brought us together and made us stronger. For a brief time, we became the family and community we could be every day if we only choose to do so.

Grateful to First Responders Working a Storm

This is dedicated to the many law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS workers, dispatchers, volunteers of every service, as well as, Duke Energy, the many linemen, tree companies, employees of Aluminum Ladder, IGA, Piggly Wiggly, Walmart, ASAP Steel, Sav-way and many others who helped us weather the storm.

– Daniel Watson, chief of police, Darlington Police Department