It is no secret to anyone that knows me: I love eastern North Carolina. I was born and raised here, and there is nothing more beautiful to me than a drive through rural NC. The lush, green fields are the landscape of my life, and I still admire them on the many miles I travel to and from the counties I serve.
I love the pace of smaller towns. I like not being stuck in traffic for an hour on my way home from a long day of work. I like running into folks I have known forever at the grocery store or the post office. I like the support of small communities when someone needs help.
What I like and admire most of all are the people. Living in an area that is no stranger to massive storms, one thing that I can say about the people of eastern North Carolina is that they are resilient. In the face of the aftermath of storms, they pull together, they help one another -- and they rise above.
Just weeks before the devastation of Hurricane Florence, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate with the citizens of Princeville, North Carolina. Many of you are familiar with Princeville, the first town chartered by freed slaves. Princeville has been devastated by hurricanes, not once, but twice within recent decades. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd flooded every single building in Princeville. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought tremendous destruction, flooding many of the same structures and homes. But Princeville is committed to a comeback. They are working hard on infrastructure and rebuilding and revitalizing. The rich history of the town and the people contributes to their commitment.
Just like Princeville is recovering, so will our other communities. They will recover through the support and the dedication of the people and organizations that believe in them. It is truly heartwarming to hear about the generosity of people from all over the world in response to our NCCF Disaster Relief Fund. Recovery isn’t a matter of weeks or even months. In our rural communities, it can take years. But it is possible, because of our people and because of other people who identify with that strength of the human spirit. It's called resilience.