Thumbs up to a bad storm bringing out the good in people. That is what has happened since Hurricane Matthew drenched and decked the Pee Dee a week ago. Power outages have made life difficult. Trees have blocked roads, making traffic maddening. But something remarkable has happened in the past seven days. People have risen to the challenge. Some of these people are pros. We appreciate immensely what they have been doing to help us recover from a big blow, but they have been doing what they are paid to do. What we’re talking about is different. Neighbors have helped neighbors, as in, “You don’t have a chainsaw? Let me help you with mine.” Strangers have helped strangers. A Red Cross volunteer from the Boston area said earlier this week that he had heard about Southern hospitality but was impressed to see that it isn’t a myth. That was Carolos Ortiz, who was managing a shelter at South Florence High School. He told some local people that the shelter was running low on supplies, and he was impressed with the response. “The support and help from the community of Florence is amazing,” Ortiz said. “There’s an endless supply of food and water and toiletries coming in every day. The community is supporting their own, and that’s awesome.”

Thumbs up to the characters at South Florence High School. These are students who have started a company called “We’ve Got Character.” They provide “characters” for parties and events. Five of the characters showed up Tuesday to entertain the children at the South Florence High School shelter. More characters showed up Wednesday. We appreciate South Florence High School Principal Carol Hill calling this to our attention. Check out the wonderful video on Look for a story Wednesday in the next edition of Pee Dee Weekly.

Thumbs down to drivers who have been breaking the law. When power is out and the lights aren’t working at an intersection, state law says a driver must bring a vehicle to a full stop at that intersection, treating it like a four-way stop. But hardly anyone has been obeying this law. It’s a wonder we haven’t had fatal T-bone accidents. Drivers who have stopped properly have been at risk of rear-end collisions. Come on, people. Do you not know the law, or do you just think it isn’t meant for you?

Thumbs up to the hand that public works crews in Lake City and Hartsville got this week from a Greenville County crew. Make that “hands.” Greenville County sent an eight-man crew to help with backhoes, trailers, chippers, a flatbed truck, a bucket truck and other heavy equipment to assist in cleaning up massive amounts of accumulated debris. “These amazing folks from Greenville have said they are committed to helping our city as long as we need them,” said Shawn Bell, the city manager in Lake City. “We want our citizens to know we are doing all we can, including asking for outside help. Please say thank you to these workers who are spending time away from their families to help our citizens and our businesses in our time of need.”

Thumbs up to the power of human connections. That sentiment comes from the good folks at the Santee Electric Cooperative. “Who knew a paper bag filled with munchies could look so good? Linemen who have been working 16 hour-days for nearly a week, that’s who,” wrote Adrel Langley, SEC manager of community relations. Young members of Union Baptist Church in Hannah dropped off approximately 50 bags filled with bottled water and snacks for Santee Electric Cooperative linemen in Kingstree. The gesture touched the lineworkers’ hearts. “I could joke about it and say there’s no better way to make a friend of me than to feed me,” Santee lineman Will Gaymon. “But it really is a sweet thing to do. I am worn out from nonstop work, and it means a lot to know co-op members notice it.” Each of the brown paper bags came with its own artwork – a big, bold “Thank You” written with a red or green marker – and some had a drawing of a flower or house. “How do you even begin to say an appropriate ‘thank you’ for such unrequested and unexpected kindness?” Langley said. “Nobody likes hurricanes and the extra work they bring, but it sure helps keep these lineman’s spirits up when people are so caring.”

Thumbs up to the churches that are helping their communities. Read about some in our Faith & Values section. At 8 a.m. today, Central United Methodist Church members will gathering in the church’s Irby Street parking lot. They will spend the day helping remove debris left from Hurricane Matthew at the homes of people who are not able to do so themselves. That’s the spirit we’re talking about.

Thumbs up, thumbs down is a regular feature of the Morning News and appears each Saturday on our Opinion page. We seek nominations for both good and bad deeds from our readers. Send nominations to us by email at Be sure use the word “thumb” in the subject and include a contact number. Thumbs can also be mailed to us c/o The Morning News, 310 S. Dargan St., Florence, S.C., 29506.

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