Thumbs up to our public safety officials. That goes to the big shots, but we mainly want to recognize the workers who have to be at their best on our worst days, braving miserable conditions. Hurricane Matthew and its effects are the latest elements to test these people who sometimes risk their lives to save others. Shame on those who don’t heed evacuation warnings and then put their own life at risk as well as the lives of people on rescue missions. Maybe we’re patting public safety officials on the back prematurely, but we know what kind of day it could be today when the wind howls, the rain pours, the trees snap and the power goes out. Sunday won’t be easy, either, when the creeks and rivers rise and roads wash out. We also know a good deal of effort went into preparation for this storm. Let’s pray that conditions don’t get as bad as expected. Just in case they do, let’s pray for the safety of all.
Thumbs up to evacuees from the coast. Some of them are in our shelters. Others are in our hotels. We know this is no vacation. They did the right thing by following orders. We know how hard it is to leave a home and most possessions behind, but anything that is lost can be replaced. Our heart bleeds for those who left pets behind. We wish more shelters could accommodate our four-legged friends.
Thumbs up to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley. On Tuesday, she called for coastal evacuations to start on Wednesday. She has been criticized for making that call too soon, while Hurricane Matthew was still in Haiti, 1,000 miles away. In more than half of the state’s counties, she ordered school districts and government offices to close. She also ordered lane reversals on Interstate 26 to help motorists evacuate Charleston and get to Columbia. Some parents weren’t happy because they had to stay home to care for children who could have been in school. But, as they say, hindsight is 20-20. Many schools are used as shelters for evacuees. Those shelters needed to be prepared. Former Gov. David Beasley told The State that Haley made the right call. “It's got to be an orderly process and, if you wait too late, the roads get jammed and then tempers flare and there's catastrophe,” Beasley said. “You err on the side of caution. You can't err on the side of convenience.” In 1996, Beasley ordered the evacuation of the Grand Strand when Hurricane Bertha threatened the coast. He was nervous when the storm turned toward the Isle of Palms, which he did not order evacuated, but the island ultimately was not hit. In 1999, with Hurricane Floyd on the way, Gov. Jim Hodges ordered a coastal evacuation, but he didn’t order the reversal on I-26 until a massive traffic jam had occurred. That makes him sympathetic toward Haley. “There are a lot of tough decisions that need to be made,” Hodges told The State. “She (Haley) has much better information than any of us have” about the storm’s path and what it will take to keep people safe. “Second-guessing her or the team is inappropriate.”
Thumbs up to the Florence County Council for things it did two or three years ago. Led by then-Chairman James Schofield, the council pushed for a new digital radio system that is more reliable and modern than the functionally obsolete analog system that it replaced. The project cost roughly $15 million. It is being paid for with funds that have been coming in since a second penny sales tax referendum passed in 2013. This has been money well spent. Imagine public safety officials trying to communicate today on the old system, which suffered coverage problems on the outskirts of the county.
Thumbs up to new Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore and others for pushing for changes in the annual Christmas parade through downtown Florence. The parade now will be held on the second weekend in December. This year, the parade will be on Saturday, Dec. 10. Previously the parade was on the third weekend in December. Because of the move, the parade will include more local high school bands. “In the past most high school bands weren’t able to participate because school was out for winter,” said Moore, a parade coordinator. “This year they’ll be able to be in the parade.” The parade committee hopes to have stage on South Dargan Street with live music and caroling, among other activities. “We’re trying to make it bigger and better than before,” Moore said. We applaud these efforts.
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 email@example.com. 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.