A simple Google news search of Hurricane Florence produces some very depressing news. Just one example that made national headlines was the good samaritan and woman who was arrested for essentially saving and housing pets without a permit. Her crime? Providing basic medicine to suffering animals without a veterinary license. While it’s always difficult to judge a story from afar it appears her motives were nothing but one of compassion.
The story too of the death of Kaiden Lee-Welch absolutely broke my heart. There are many others of course.
However, I’m drawn to many of the heartwarming stories too, particularly given the brokenness we are currently seeing in Washington and from politics more generally. While we never want any kind of weather-related tragedy, it can serve as a reminder of the good deeds that come from so many North Carolinians and Americans in times of trial. “We’re so grateful for other states throughout the country who have sent their personnel and equipment here to help us out,” declared Gov. Roy Cooper. It reminds us of the importance of civil society and that politics is really limited in its ability to transform us or meet the deeper needs we may have.
Now for some good news.
Operation BBQ Relief was founded in 2011, by two Kansas City, Missouri, competition barbecuers who started cooking meals for people affected by a catastrophic tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Their effort turned into an organization that can now be found trailing most natural disasters across the country ready to serve free meals.
The group doesn’t cook a specific type of barbecue, when doing relief projects, instead relying on whatever sauce has been donated.
Today, the group was using “Bone Suckin’ Sauce,” which is made by Ford’s Foods out of Raleigh. A volunteer described it as a mix between Lexington-style sauce and Eastern North Carolina-style sauce.
Since their founding, Operation BBQ Relief has served 1,780,375 meals during disasters.
Another story is about a four-year-old girl named Florence in Chicago who used her name to capitalize on helping people by collecting supplies. Technology helped the story go viral and they amassed enough goods to fill a truck. From the profile in People:
Florence’s mother, Tricia Wisniewski, says she showed her daughter photos of the destruction, reminding the little girl that it’s important “to help people who aren’t as lucky as us.” The pre-schooler agreed, saying, “people need toiletries and diapers and pacifiers. They need formula and water and baby food.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reminds us there is nothing more powerful than images. They offer up some visuals of rescues during Florence. A Gov. Cooper press release noted that “first responders have reported 5,214 people rescued.”
There are a lot of powerful stories from Hurricane Florence still to emerge. In the rush to politicize everything today, sadly even natural disasters, we should focus more on our common humanity. I continually find the extraordinary generosity of ordinary Americans to be one of our best testaments. Bill Clinton said it well in his first Inaugural Address when he noted, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”