With so many people and groups having contributed to the ongoing hurricane recovery, we are somewhat reluctant to single out any one. But after being more out and about last week, we were struck by the way private businesses responded to Florence.
From the gas stations and grocery stores that managed (often through creative and very-limited means) to quickly reopen, to the restaurants and entertainment venues that toiled to get up and running, providing much-needed respite for storm-weary residents — not to mention convenient food for the thousands of workers temporarily calling the area home.
Companies, of course, have a financial incentive to get their doors open. But in talking informally with owners and employees, we found that their overriding priority — and what they were most passionate about — was figuring out a way to serve residents who needed their goods and services at a time of crisis.
Some businesses fared better than others, but we'd surmise that most took a hit on their bottom lines. With that in mind, it's never been a better time to help these local businesses, by shopping with them or using their services. Many rely on a robust Christmas season to stay prosperous. That will be more important than ever this year. These local companies, of course, employ thousands of workers who also would benefit from patronage.
The other piece of the private-enterprise story is the army of companies both locally and nationally that provide disaster-recovery services. It makes no sense, for example, for any county or municipality to have the equipment or staff for extensive debris removal. So thank goodness there are companies that specialize in disaster response and have the needed equipment and the experienced workers to do these big jobs safely, quickly and efficiently.
The same can be said for the companies that specialize in water damage, mold remediation and other disaster-response services. (Who knew Carrier Systems rents industrial dehumidifiers mounted on the back of tractor-trailer rigs, which can be dispatched to disaster sites on a moment's notice; or that a business can take your furniture to a drying-and-disinfecting facility?)
There is no question that government agencies will — and should — always play a unique role in responding to disasters. But we shouldn't overlook the role that specialty entrepreneurs and businesses in general provide. Without their contribution, dealing with Florence would have been a lot worse than it already was. When warranted, let's reward their good work with our thanks, good reviews and, most importantly, continued patronage.
REPRINTED FROM THE NEW BERN SUN JOURNAL