Hello everyone! I know it's been a long time between entries, things have not slowed down any in Mississippi. Devastation is still apparent. They are making progress cleaning up the rubble, houses are now being demolished, and people who were previously living in these houses, are now homeless. Shelters are now reopening as a new wave of Hurricane survivors are forced out of their homes.
I was originally heading to Florida, ended up in New Orleans, and then got a call from Mississippi telling me to not unpack, I was going to be heading there. They tell you that you have to be flexible in the Red Cross, and man they aren't kidding! I started out in Pascagoula, and ended up moving to Gulfport, with our kitchen in Woolmarket, and now I'm staying in Ocean Springs. See what I mean? Flexibility! I just live out of my suitcase, it's easier!!
Days are long. Very long. I start at 8am, and get done about 8:30pm. We are feeding about 8000 meals a day right now. We peaked last month at 10,700 meals. Our kitchen is outdoors, and our meeting site is under a large tent. Since we moved the kitchen to Woolmarket and lost all of our Administration staff (except for John John) it has been something of mass chaos. But things are smoothing out now, and moving forward. We are in the parking lot of our main Headquarters, which is interesting in itself, and we get a lot of visitors passing through from other departments who are curious on how a kitchen works.
Teresa made it here. That was no small feat. She went to New Orleans, and got caught there with the red tape and couldn't get out. Took a lot of work on behalf of our home Chapter but she is here now and driving an ERV. It's a blessing because we are so incredibly short handed and we need every certified driver we can get. My daughter Jen will be coming in (I hope) this week so we can spend a very special Thanksgiving together doing humanitarian work. I think it will be a very unique experience for her and I to share together, so much work to be done down here yet, and no one outside of the area realizes that there is still total devastation here. People are getting depressed, it is the holiday season and they are living in tents, or in cars. They are still waiting for FEMA trailers, still have nothing. Hundreds and thousands of people. Just because this isn't in the news doesn't mean it's over. It's still going on, it's still heartbreaking, and it's going to be that way for many months to come yet.
My first day off is today. I have been here more than 20 days working 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week. We get done working and are so tired, we fall into bed and get up and do it all over again. But today I get off, and me and a few friends are going to New Orleans for the day. It should be fun. I spent only a couple of hours there the last time before I was transferred out. We are going to the Cafe Dumond to eat some little pastry with a name I can't pronounce. I guess it's the thing to do..
The weather is cold here. I know it's warmer than home, but not by much. It is down to the 50's in the daytime, and 40's at night. Supposed to warm up to the upper 60's this week, I hope so. I didn't bring enough warm clothes, only 2 sweaters, and one that I stole from Darrin when he left it behind, and now he wants it back. No way, finders keepers!!
I have to write about the SeaBee base. We stay at a Naval Base near Gulfport. They have set up a shelter in a huge warehouse (I think they said 60,000 sq ft) and it is interesting!! 650 people on cots side by side, 18 inches apart. Men and women mixed in together. Little screens to change behind. Bathroom are port a potty's outside, and believe me, it's a long hike to get to them. Showers are in semi's outside too. And that is a much longer walk, and when it is freezing outside, you won't want to walk slowly on the way back when you are wet, you will freeze to death before you get back to your cot!! You learn to not drink much before you go to bed, you don't want to have to find your way outside in the middle of the night to find the bathroom!!
The food is fantastic though.. prime rib on Sun night, NY strip, bbq ribs (half rack per person) it is fantastic! You go outside and go through the line, and then sit under tents to eat. But your breakfast eggs get cold before you can get to the eating tents, so you gotta eat them on the way, or eat them cold.
But now I'm in the Ramada Inn. My room doesn't have heat, but it has indoor plumbing that flushes and isn't being used by 600 people, so I'm a happy gal!!! And I have internet now, so I can update my blog and answer email.. so if anyone wants to drop me a line just email
Thats all for now! I'll write more later.. off to New Orleans!!