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Mayor's Greeting- April 2020

Tue, 04/14/2020

Mayor Pat O'Neil

“This is no ordinary time”

Dear Island Neighbors,

In 1940, as WW II was underway in Europe and the US watched warily, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt captured the moment and focused the attention of a national audience in five words: “This is no ordinary time”.

Those words hold equally true now, on the Island, in South Carolina, in the US, across the globe.

We face a national and global crisis of uncertain severity and duration. One thing we know about this pandemic is that is has caused crushing pain and loss, and will continue to do so, to an even greater degree in the near term. The only other thing we know for certain about the future of this pandemic, and its impact on us, is that we don’t know what it holds.

We have all seen that the situation remains very fluid and therefore the responses of governments at all levels, from Washington to Town Hall, have had to change as circumstances change, sometimes abruptly. What looks like ambivalence and indecision is very often a response to a 180-degree change in outside factors.

Through all this the Town has been in frequent communication with our fellow beach communities of Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach, and Charleston County leadership especially Chair Elliott Summey. The town administrators are in constant contact as are their public safety leaders and Mayors. There have been daily Tri-County emergency calls so that all local governmental entities can update each other on their status and receive daily updates from DHEC. Our collaboration with the Isle of Palms has been especially productive. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Carroll and his staff, and our great staff, our joint checkpoints plan is working smoothly, treating our two islands as one.

Apart from the long-term national and global effects of the pandemic, in the moment, the impacts on daily life are numerous and undeniable. In many cases they would have been inconceivable just a year ago.

The situation calls for adaptability, creativity, patience, understanding and generosity. Or at least some of those!

I personally am shooting for 3 out of 5 at any one time, and trying to improve on that.

And although it may seem out of place in the midst of a widespread threat to life, on a daily basis I would add a sixth useful quality: a sense of humor. [As a recent example, a couple in Mt Pleasant got married a few days ago with scores of folks in attendance, but on Zoom. After the officiant pronounced them husband and wife, they of course followed with…elbow bumps! Best wishes, Pete and Tina!]

But let’s don’t try to skirt the fact that we all will have to sacrifice in various ways, not just for our own health, but for the greater good: the health of our neighbors, friends, and the entire community and population. Nationally, we are called upon to stay home as much as possible. Locally, for now we are asked to stay off the beach and out of the parks, and tolerate the usually minimal delays getting through the checkpoints.

Speaking of the checkpoints, my usual aversion to social media was reinforced by some of the comments posted in recent weeks about the need to restrict access to the Island. The Town’s decision was a matter of numbers, crowd size and crowd behavior, not elitism. We on the Island are no less likely to carry the virus than to catch it, just like everyone else. There have been some disturbing comments around this issue both by people who don’t live on the Island and those who do, thankfully small numbers of each group. The vast majority of us on the Island understand that once we cross the Intracoastal Waterway, we become “non-residents” in someone else’s community!

I would like to thank the many Islanders who have shown their appreciation to our staff at the checkpoints and elsewhere. You have no idea what a difference that makes! And please look for ways to look after your neighbors and help folks in need elsewhere. While not a substitute for hand sanitizer, kindness and generosity may be just as important for the health of our community.

We must remember that much, much sacrifice is already being required of many, for example, healthcare workers and first responders who are putting in extremely long hours at great risk of infection. People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their loved ones. More sacrifice will be required of many people going forward.

So whenever this is over, if the worst thing that has happened to me is that I had to stay off the beach for a month or two, I will consider myself very fortunate indeed!

Stay healthy! See you around the Island…but in small groups only J

PS: The newspaper you are reading is of course one of our wonderful Island businesses, all of which are having very hard times. You can patronize the restaurants that are offering take out, but you can also take out ads in the Island Eye News. Tell the islands about your off-island business and what it offers!  If you’re doing ok, how about a Happy Birthday notice for your special person, or an ad supporting your favorite candidate in upcoming elections, or…use your imagination.

Pat O’Neil
843 670 9266