Columbia copes with COVID-19 threat

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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Churches, restaurants, schools, library — empty, silent, still.

Scuppernong Drive, usually busy with motorists returning from a weekend on the Outer Banks, was quiet and almost abandoned Sunday afternoon.

Few people outside. Many people out of work. Eerie, some say.

Predictions of how long it will last vary widely, but there’s the high probability school classrooms will not be filled again until late August.

The uncertainty — and outright fear — is offset by some who turn to Psalm 91, believing the God will do now what He did then.

There was uncertainty and fear about enemy air attack back during the Second World War, when Civil Defense officials ordered nighttime blackout drills.

The town siren, mounted in the attic of the cupola above what was the Winery on Elm Street, would scream out across Columbia. It wasn’t as large or as loud as the one Ike Godsey used on Walton’s Mountain, but everyone in town could hear it.

Residents turned off the lights or pulled blackout curtains over the windows. Streetlights were extinguished, and near total darkness prevailed.

Many vehicle owners applied black paint to the top half of their headlights to prevent the beam from being seen by enemy aircraft.

All this was overly cautious because the Nazis had no aircraft carriers, so enemy planes could not possibly reach the Atlantic states.

But back in those days, as now, it was better to be safe than sorry. So it a good idea now to follow guidelines about preventing COVID-19, and we can laugh about it all later on.