For These Things and More, I Am Thankful
By County Manager Chris Coudriet
Thankful. It’s a word most of us use around this time of year but it feels incredibly fitting for me to use it now as I reflect on the past two months.
I am thankful for our New Hanover County employees. They work tirelessly each day to serve our community, and this year they made even more of an impact through their service during Hurricane Florence.
More than 1,500 county employees worked in various emergency roles before, during and after the storm. They staffed our Emergency Operations Center, answered thousands of calls from the public and helped them find the answers they needed, rescued residents from rising water, coordinated supplies and distribution points that were vital to our community, managed shelters and came to the aid of residents who had nowhere else to go, and more.
They did so much and gave so much.
An employee who was working at a shelter was thanked by a resident, who said, “Thank you. You made staying here better than I ever could have expected.”
That means something.
Conditions may not have been ideal, but our employees made things better and they made a difference. And I am grateful for every single one of them.
I am also thankful for our Commissioners and other elected officials who were consistently providing support and guidance in the county’s emergency and recovery efforts. Their leadership helped drive the agenda for the work that needed to be done in our community, and they have been keenly focused on ensuring our residents have what they need in the days since the storm.
Thank you to the City of Wilmington, Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure beaches, New Hanover County Schools, NHRMC, our human services agencies, utility companies, state and federal agencies, and all of our emergency personnel for your partnership to keep our community safe and secure. What we went through was a team effort and our recovery would not have been possible without that collaboration.
There are so many positive stories that came out of this difficult experience. Hundreds of businesses donated to help others recover. The county received generous support from organizations, like World Central Kitchen, which volunteered to prepare food and served more than 20,000 meals per day in our region to first responders, the county’s Emergency Operations Center staff, and others who needed it most.
We had thousands of relief workers who came in to our community to help us recover. They met residents where they were – taking water and supplies directly to doorsteps. They served warm meals, helped residents clean up, and tarped countless roofs. It was comforting to know they were here, and they forever have my gratitude.
I have been proud of the many businesses who helped their employees throughout the storm – paying them even when the office was closed and supporting them when their homes were damaged. It shows the value of our workforce and the strength of our private sector.
I know for some, the road to recovery is longer than others. But we will recover. We will rebuild and be more resilient for future storms, and the county will be there every step of the way.
Our Hurricane Florence Recovery Coordination Office is already identifying and prioritizing the most critical unmet needs in our community to ensure the county is ready, so that when funds become available from state and federal resources, we can focus those dollars in a way that will be most helpful to residents and businesses.
Hurricane Florence has shown me just how strong New Hanover County is. People have been kind, businesses have been giving, and our community has come together unlike anything I have seen before. For these things and more, I am thankful.