HUDSON: Love thy neighbor

Residents of Southern Pines have lunch while the power is out in the area at Reds Food Truck Corner in Southern Pines, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

“Love thy neighbor.”

It’s one of the most important commands found in the Bible. And last week, we saw it in action in our community.

The reprehensible attack on two power substations in Moore County left hospitals, health care providers, schools, businesses, and nearly 40,000 homes without power for several days. Thanks to the incredible efforts of hardworking men and women from Duke Energy, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, the NC Department of Transportation, as well as state and county officials, law enforcement, and emergency personnel, Moore County was able to restore power by Wednesday while keeping families safe. I cannot thank these folks enough for their hard work and leadership over the past week. We felt the relief of so many when our power was finally restored on Wednesday afternoon. 

I also want to single out Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields and all local law enforcement, as well as the State Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation, for their quick action in response to the incident. We must hold those responsible for this act accountable and I will continue to support law enforcement as they conduct their investigation. A reward of up to $75,000 is being offered to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Sheriff has asked that information be reported to the Moore County Crime Tip Line at 910-947-4444.

While these past few days have been difficult, the people of Moore County have remained resilient. What’s more — we saw some of the best qualities of mankind on display, as this situation united our community and state. 

Throughout this ordeal, numerous businesses, local institutions, and individuals stepped up to help their neighbors. We saw folks open their doors to provide shelter and other amenities. Restaurants and other businesses provided food and water to those affected. Churches fed people and served as charging stations and depots for supplies.

Renee and I were thankful our church, First Baptist Church of Southern Pines, provided hot meals. First Baptist Church of Pinehurst offered food along with shower and laundry services to those in need. Swank Coffee Shoppe in Southern Pines offered free coffee, as well as gave any donations they received away to the local Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills and Friend to Friend. 

Across our region and state, many people lent a hand. This includes food trucks from Fayetteville, which set up shop in Moore County to offer free and discounted meals. The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce coordinated donations through Sam’s Club. Outback Steakhouse and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office provided meals for first responders in Aberdeen and at the Moore County Sheriff’s Office. Examples like this fill me with hope and remind me that the future of our community and nation is bright.

While my team and I stayed in close touch with law enforcement, community leaders, and Duke Energy—helping where we could—I also took steps to support our military, their families, and our nation’s defense capabilities. On Thursday, the House passed our annual defense legislation. Included in this critical bill were several provisions I spearheaded to support Fort Bragg and military families. This includes over $80 million for projects at Fort Bragg, a needed pay raise for troops, expanded housing allowances and mental health services, as well as the end of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for servicemembers. Ending this mandate has been a priority for me. I have sponsored legislation and directly urged President Biden and Defense Secretary Austin to drop this policy. I am thankful our efforts were successful and that this mandate will finally end.

As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, supporting our troops, their families, and veterans are among my top priorities. I will continue to provide updates as the Senate takes up this legislation.

In the meantime, please know my office is always here for you if you need assistance in Moore County or anywhere throughout our District. It’s an honor to represent you, Fort Bragg, and the best of our community – which always shines bright, even in the dark.

Richard Hudson is serving his fifth term representing North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and in House leadership as the Republican Conference Secretary.