Louisiana, Katrina & the Red Cross, Page 5
Thursday, September 29, 2005
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Another early morning - up at 4:00AM. Almost everyone uses cell phone alarms to wake them up. An interesting combination of sounds. Trying to dress in the dark is a new experience. On the one hand you don't want to wake up those lucky enough to be able to sleep until 6:00AM, but you would also like to have the same color socks on your feet. I pity those sleeping across from the bathroom & shower doors - both flashes of light & banging doors all morning. It is also interesting as you walk outside - the barracks are air conditioned & the heat & humidity fogs your glasses as you step out the door. A big rush to get to headquarters by 8:00, then sitting around waiting until 12:00. Anyone who has been in the military is used to "hurry up & wait", but it is a new & frustrating experience for the rest.
Since it appeared that they were not sending us out, we asked it we could look for some of the United Pentecostal Campground clients we couldn't find in the envelopes we took to the campground. We were told it would be impossible to look them up because the 24 or so boxes containing the cards were not alphabetized correctly. Since we were just sitting there we asked for a box to see if it could be fixed. The problem was each box had about 10 dividers, each individually alphabetized. To find a name you needed to go through each folder in the box. We re alphabetized the "D" box as a whole, sent it back, and, after the chapter staff checked it, a little later we got the rest of the boxes. It took 10 of us most of the afternoon, but by the end of the day the entire alphabet (about 4000 cards) was in order. After that I went to the vault where they were stored, looked up the 40 names of those at the Campground that had filled out paperwork but for whom we didn't have cards & found 31. We drove back to the Campground and with the help of the shelter staff & campground owner, distributed the new found cards. Some individuals were already on their way home - the shelter staff called their cell phones & they turned around to come back for the cards. We felt bad about the time it took - usually the Red Cross can supply emergency funds either on the spot or within 72 hours. Some of the clients we were serving had been waiting for a month. It really wasn't anyone's fault - the scale of Katrina overwhelmed all of the distribution systems. The chapter staff warned us that we might be facing angry people, but almost everyone was both pleasant and patient.
The owner of the campground is a wonderful woman. She started a sewing club to make clothing for orphans & woman's shelters, and turned it into a business that takes up an entire building at the campground, including a gift shop that pays for all the equipment including both home & professional sewing machines, & still allows her to supply free hand made clothing to many organizations. One of her big sellers is a purse made from a padded bra. Sounds weird, but looks elegant!
We got back to Tall Timbers by 9:00PM, missing a pig roast given by a Red Cross corporate sponsor at the chapter headquarters, but feeling like we accomplished much.