Union Point Park in New Bern was mostly underwater, barely recognizable. An extension of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

But, watching on TV, we could tell it was — will again be — a park. Some benches were only half submerged, a few wooden slats visible among the floodwaters. Facing what once was a shoreline.

In Fayetteville, we followed the ominous rise of the Cape Fear River. We used a railroad trestle to mark the water’s progress. We watched as Hurricane Florence lifted that water toward that bridge. Then to it. We could only hope they would recede. Only pray that this storm would show some mercy.

Just two cities in a state of 100 counties, all affected, in one way or another, by this historic storm. A state that took on more than 8 trillion gallons of water, flooding roads, homes, farms. Taking 27 lives. More will be lost. That’s what a hurricane, especially one such as this, does.

We will recover and rebuild. We always have. We will again. And again.

The federal and state government have and will play large, crucial roles in the recovery, as will the military, first responders, and other law enforcement entities.

But the core of the recovery will be found in homes and neighborhoods. In churches and businesses. It’s where the heart will beat the loudest under the strains and burdens of the coming months.

In places such as Morehead City and Lumberton. In Wilmington and Pollocksville.

In Fayetteville and New Bern.

Those latter two places, very different yet very much alike, are special to me. They always will be.

I spent about eight years in those cities. In New Bern I truly began my career in newspapers. It’s a place where I learned from a remarkable editor and made lifetime friendships.

The Fayetteville Observer, where I worked as an editor, continues to be, in my mind, one of the country’s finest newspapers. There are now fewer editors and reporters, but they are no less diligent, professional, committed, and caring. Their coverage of Florence is evidence of that.

My children were born in Fayetteville, and I’m proud that they’ll always be from there.

It’s great for politicians to thank “officials” and people in uniform, and they have our sincere appreciation, as well.

But remember the heartbeat. The media who warned us of this storm’s realized potential. The people who stayed behind to rescue families and pets. Those still collecting and delivering donations. The linemen. The people and businesses who will recover, rebuild, and — someday — go on with their lives. In their communities.

“We know that we’re a state that is hurting,” Gov. Roy Cooper says in a news release. “But one thing I know is that North Carolinians are strong. North Carolinians are resilient. People that I’ve been talking today are helping each other. Our local, state and federal partners are pulling together and working in a coordinated way to make sure we help people. And, neighbors are helping neighbors. Communities of faith are stepping up. I talked to one woman whose house had been destroyed — she was out serving meals to other people. That is the spirit of North Carolina. And that is the spirit that I am witnessing across this state.”

That spirit will continue, as people — still dealing with Hurricane Matthew, which struck the state two years ago — cry, sweat, and bleed to help themselves and one another. Next week, next month, next year. When politicians are no longer smiling for cameras as they pass out cases of water and neatly packed boxes of hot dogs and chips.