Few places in North Carolina have been hit harder by flooding from hurricanes and storms than tiny Princeville, 16 miles east of Rocky Mount in Eastern North Carolina. Yet citizens of the oldest town incorporated by African-Americans in the United States stubbornly carry on – after Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and now after Hurricane Matthew’s floods caused tremendous damage from which the town has yet to recuperate.
The grit of Princeville’s residents, who are determined to keep their town on the map, is admirable, but the recovery would be impossible without lots of help. And some of that help has been slow to come or inadequate, particularly the assistance hoped-for from the federal government. (Yes, some help has come, but more is needed.)
But now, a joining of charitable groups has given hope to some Princeville residents. The N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church has been a steadfast help to Princeville through every crisis, including now. Volunteers are now headed to Princeville to rebuild homes, from which so many were displaced by floods. Some are in trailers provided by FEMA; others are with relatives; still others, entire families, are in cramped hotel quarters.
But the best news Princeville and those sturdy Methodists have had lately is that volunteers from Islamic Relief USA are also headed in to help Princeville. They’ve been in North Carolina as recently as last October, when some from the organization helped staff a shelter in Pembroke.
This time, the help will be more intense and likely last for a longer period.
How is this for inspiration? Two charitable, faith-based groups helping the good people of Princeville keep the faith and the town make yet another comeback. Muslim charities always have done good work, and those who work for them have long been valued members of North Carolina – and American society, for that matter.
Sadly, Muslim groups have become political targets in recent years – President Trump’s ill-conceived “Muslim ban” being a good example – but in fact, the charitable efforts supported by Muslims are far-flung and, as evidenced by what is happening in Princeville, undeterred by criticism. That groups such as the Islamic Relief USA organization and the tireless UMC Conference can stand side by side for a worthy cause at a time when they are needed most is a testament to the strength of commitment in both groups and the character of those who work for them.