Monday, September 15, 2008

Disaster Relief - Part 1

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.........


Living on the Spit said...

I love the excitement that you are sharing with this post. The anticipation is driving me crazy...what a great cliff hanger. I can not wait for the next installment. You are such a loving person for doing this and I understand how much you get in return. Giving is a good thing.

Amy-littletoesandcheerios said...

I can't WAIT to hear more.

Mental P Mama said...

I cannot tell you how much I admire people like you who extend themselves like this. Wow. I'm sure your daughter totally understands, and is very proud of her mama!

nikkicrumpet said...

First of what an have such a generous spirit to drop everything and go help out in a disaster. I really admire you for that. I'm sure your daughter understands completely...and I bet she is very proud of you. I think the example you're setting is much more important to her future than for you to be there her first day of school. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

The Incredible Woody said...

You inspire me!!

belladella said...

Oh, I am so excited you are telling the story of your trip. I've been waiting :) I can't wait to hear more. I am still in awe of the giving spirit it takes to do something like this. You are awesome!

Anonymous said...

Is this gonna make me cry? I am super emotional lately. lol

Seriously- can't wait to hear more!

Travel Girl said...

I can't wait to hear why you couldn't have made it without your flashlight. Was there anything you took that you had absolutely no use for?

I think Orange County's "Fan for Life" is merely a marketing campaign for their community but I like to think of it as home of the UNC Tarheels. Go Blue! I'm a fan for life.

Anonymous said...

That was just a teaser - I want to hear more!!! :)

I'm glad you had good folks in your group; I'm sure that it makes a big difference in how the experience plays out. With everything going on, it's great to have people around you that help you stay positive and keep going.

The first responders are awesome, and I just can't get over how much they do for us! And groups like yours that go in to help in the aftermath are also wonderful!

Isn't it amazing how we go into certain situations and discover that what we *really* need isn't what we thought we'd need? Glad you had your maglite!

And your daughter is so proud of you she could burst, I bet.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

I really admire you for sacrificing that first day of school with your daughter. I know how important those are, especially when you only have so many of them in a lifetime...

The opportunities to step up to the plate and actually do something to help other human beings are not so rare, unfortunately, but the person who does so is a rarity indeed.

Thank you for being a doer and not a sayer. There's nothing more rewarding than helping others.

Grandma J said...

You are one heck of a good samaritan. I hope the victims of the hurricanes appreciate the sacrifices you make, and others like you.