It looks like we’re done with this storm. There’s been some rain and gusts but nothing serious. We closed up the shelter about ten this morning, twenty-four hours after opening them yesterday. I drove a truck down to another shelter and brought back the unused supplies and food. A couple dozen volunteers showed up today after a two-day trip from the mid-west, but there was little to do by the time they got here. Had it been a bad storm, we sure would have been glad to see them. I’d much rather have over-reacted to this sort of thing than under-reacted. Everyone—Red Cross volunteers and clients, police, and county case workers—kept bringing up one name: “Wilma.”
The women with children at the shelter were much more appreciative of the help and less demanding than the homeless people were. The population was about fifty-fifty and housed separately. Some of the kids told me that they had stayed in that same gym for four weeks during Wilma. One of the deputies thought it was four weeks total between that shelter and another. They needed to move because the ground had become so saturated that they were contnually mopping up the water as it flooded in through the doors of the gym.
I’ve gotten a shower and now have a nice warm, dry hotel room to stay in for the next couple of days. For me this experience has been a good one, and it’s over. I had the opportunity to work for a while with some truly terrific people. The regulars at the Red Cross and the county will be back next time in the same roles, helping many of the same people. There’s little chance that Ona or Randy or the others will ever read this, but hats-off to them, and thanks.
The shelter-seekers were great as well. There are at least a few that I won’t forget—I’m thinking specifically of the kids and their “Karate Man.” I probably won’t be up for playing “War” any time soon, but we did build a pretty cool tow-truck out of Jenga blocks.