Sunday, June 3, 2007

September 20th, 2005

2:30 am and I was still wide awake and excited, unable to sleep. Teresa's husband and Dad picked us up and drove us to GR to the airport. We got there at 4:45 and left at 7:45. We had a connecting flight in Memphis and flew on to Biloxi. There were 9 of us from our chapter on the plane, and we made some friends from other Red Cross Chapters across America already.

There is no way to explain what we saw from the air as we circled Gulfport/Biloxi airport waiting to land. Homes destroyed, debris everywhere. Blue tarps covering rooftops as far as the eyes could see.

So many people around us on the plane were telling us their stories. So many people who's lives were impacted by this storm. Strangers kept coming up to us to shake our hand and thank us for coming to help them. The gratitude and sincerity was extremely touching.

The Red Cross sent us a shuttle to get to the main headquarters in Biloxi. Our first look at the destruction from the air was nothing compared to seeing it close up.
The main headquarters was hectic. But somehow we managed to get through the whole process and received our job assignments. Most of our group will be driving ERV's delivering food to Jackson County.

The sleeping arrangements at main HQ is a shelter. A huge awning with 600+ cots side by side. No sidewalls, no privacy, all - . Porta-potties and outdoor showers.
Our group received news that we were being shipped out to Pascagoula, to a Baptist Church. The church is the "kitchen" for our ERV's. They cook the food and gather the supplies we will be delivering every day. It is a huge church and the whole operation appears to be very well organized. They fed us a very nice dinner. Ravioli, meat patties and gravy, peas, peaches, and banana dessert. It was delicious.

Then were were off to our lodging. We are lucky enough to be in a Holiday Inn express hotel. The lobby has been gutted. They had 42" of water and had to remove eels from our hotel, and alligators from the building next door. The water is gone, but the damage is extensive. Our room is on the 3rd floor and we have fans and industrial de-humidifiers in our room to dry up the water damage. But we are SO fortunate we have beds, running hot water, flushing toilet and air conditioning!! I'm' sharing a room with Teresa and a woman from Muskegon named Sandra. Time for bed, we need to hit the ground running tomorrow on our new jobs. We may be literally running, hurricane Rita is heading our way, so we are keeping an eye on it in case we need to evacuate.


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