I received the call Saturday night. The Virginia Baptist Feeding Unit was heading to the Gulf Coast to provide meals in the wake of Hurricane Gustav.
After church on Sunday, I headed to the office to try to cram two weeks worth of work into an afternoon. I was at the office so late that I didn't have time to go to the store to pick up additional travel supplies. I figured I could make do with what I had at home. I arrived home around six, and began to do laundry and pack.
I was hardly able to sleep the night before we left. My mind was racing, and my stomach was in a knot. I was afraid that I had forgotten to do something important at home or at work, OR that I would forget to pack something essential for my trip. Thank goodness I grabbed my mag light out of the glovebox. In retrosopect, I could have gotten by without other things, but NOT the flashlight. Monday morning came too quickly, and I jumped out of bed to wrap things up at home and finish packing. I was meeting the group of unknowns at 8:30 a.m.
The Surveyor took me to meet the others. My fear was abated within minutes of boarding the van. We had an AWESOME group of eight. It was a good thing...we were about to spend a tremendous amount of time together in close quarters!!!
Around 1:00 p.m., we passed through Orange County, NC. Their slogan is "You'll Be a Fan For Life." I'm hoping someone can explain this to me sometime. It was about this same time that we encountered our first caravan of power trucks. They were prepared for whatever Gustav could dish out - they had electric trucks, fuel trucks, tree trimming trucks and general maintenance trucks. They were the TRUE First Responders, and they were in high demand. The company name was Pike Electric Co. Thanks Guys!!
The lively conversation on the van helped pass the day. Some other things of note - one of our group members had an affection for Diet Coke and peanuts (She put peanuts in her Diet Coke and drank/ate them out of the bottle! hahahaha!), and one of our group members was a retired FBI Agent (I thought this was REALLY cool!). We traveled through VA, NC, SC and GA. There was surprisingly little traffic considering it was Labor Day.
We stopped for the night in GA. It was SO nice to be out of the van after a long day of riding. The group was asked to contact our coordinator at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday to receive further marching orders. They would be monitoring things overnight, while we were glued to the television sets trying to figure out what Hurricane Hanna was going to do back home in our absence! At that time, we were between the two storms, geographically, and there was speculation that we might be asked to stay put and respond to Hanna if necessary.
At 9:00 p.m. I was in my hotel room watching MSNBC. For the first time, I realized that tornadoes might be a factor in the region toward which we were heading. It addition, I realized that Ike and Josephine were lining up behind Hanna and Gustav. I wondered where in the world we were going to end up!
I talked to my family later that night, and was a bit upset because I would be missing my daughter's first day of 11th grade. I had never before missed a first day of school. She said that she understood, and it was alright. I didn't necessarily agree, but I was committed to the cause!
Who knew what tomorrow would bring?
To Be Continued.........