Below is an excerpt from my personal journal that I wrote the week following Hurricane Florence.
This morning I needed to take a few minutes and do my devotional and reflect over the past week. Even though our community is devastated, I feel truly blessed. I can't help but think about the abundance of rainbows the few days leading up to the storm and afterwords. "I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth...and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh." Genesis 9:13-15 And then I reflect on the way our community has responded and it has been the most beautiful thing to witness. Everywhere I have seen despair, I have also seen a helping hand reaching out to help. I have witnessed love, selflessness, graciousness, and an abundance of blessings. People helping people. People who have lost everything out there helping others. I have been in destroyed million dollar homes and destroyed low income homes. But the people were all the same. Full of emotion and heartbreak and at the same time full of love and gratefulness. I have seen two hour waits for 5 gallons of gas. I have seen a mile long line for a case of water and a bag of ice. I have seen an entire home's belongings ruined and sitting by the curb. I have seen a lot of tears and a lot of hugs. But you know what I haven't seen? Anger. Or hate. Or blame. The media hasn't reported much on our area and they are missing out on a beautiful story of God's love and mercy. It is the story the world needs to see. Our community will recover, rebuild, and heal. In record time. "For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Corinthians 5:1
Even though I wrote that nearly two weeks ago, the same love and grateful heart is still alive in our community. The realities of the devastation are coming more to fruition but people are still helping their neighbor every way they can. These have been individuals as well as several local businesses that have stepped up to help. One of my favorite places, The Friendly Market, coordinated with their suppliers and had daily tractor trailer loads of ice and bottled water that they gave away for free for over a week. The lines were literally a mile long but everyone was grateful. They also provided 1,000 box lunches a day for people in need of food and for linemen and relief workers. First United Methodist Church coordinated an amazing community effort that was headquartered out of Starling Marine. Starling Marine is a local, family owned boat dealership that opened their entire showroom for over a week as a staging center. They coordinated relief trucks with supplies from out of town as well as cooked an abundance of meals and delivered them to people while assisting in clean-up. Another local favorite, Dank Burrito, immediately set up their food truck and provided free meals to any in need for several days (all monetary donations were given to hurricane relief efforts). Mitchell Village Animal Hospital (recently opened by two women vets), provided free boarding for displaced residents as well as free vaccine clinics. These are just a few examples of the many local businesses that went above and beyond for their community. And that is what makes our community so great. People supporting people.
With the holidays right around the corner, I challenge you to focus on the wonderful small businesses in your community when you are making your gift list. Gift certificates to restaurants and spas make wonderful gifts! Get out and enjoy some girl time and go shopping in these brick and mortar stores. Not only will it make an impact on these small business owners and your community, it will bring you much more joy than just ordering on Amazon!
We would love for anyone to add their favorite small businesses in the comments so our followers can learn all about them!