Many times on Facebook we see our friends reaching out to us for help when they are troubled by something in their lives. This is a natural and good thing to do for those we know or care for. But do we help out folks that we don’t know so well? I have posted an entry on helping people out we don’t know before but some of the recent things I saw on Facebook prompted me to think about this subject more. And as a result I have the note below for you to consider today.
Yikes! It’s Ike!
While we were members of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) we had never had a disaster in the area where we were called up to help the fire or police department. But that changed when Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston and Houston. At first nothing happened that affected us except for Jane fleeing Galveston but then we were contacted by officer Monty Lambert and we knew we would be called up to help.
We were told to assemble at that Fort Worth ISD sports facility near the college north of I-20 that Sunday evening to help dispense drinks and snacks to busloads of refugees coming into the area. The Red Cross was there with bottled water and snacks. A TV crew was around too. So we stood around with our CERT vests on and waited for the buses to start showing up. Monty was talking on his radio and then came over to address us. He said the buses were near Fort Worth and would be arriving in groups or singly.
And then they started coming in for sure. We divided up into teams of two, one team for each bus and climbed aboard the just parked buses filled to the brim with people from the coast, all tired and a bit grumpy. We walked down the aisles passing out the cold water and handing out bags of chips or cookies to the adults and children in each seat. A few thanked us and a few complained about the limited selection of snacks. We simply said they would soon be at a real shelter where there would be meals and more drinks. We stepped out of the buses and they soon left. The TV crew never came over to see any of this; I guess there was not enough drama for this to get on the news.
After a while it became apparent that the Red Cross stash of supplies had almost been exhausted. Someone would have to go to the Red Cross HQ near downtown to get more for the next batch of buses which was coming from East Texas brining the refugees from a shelter that itself had to be evacuated due to storm damage. Monty started seeking volunteers and we stepped forward since only we had a truck which could carry a large amount of supplies.
We climbed in the truck and followed the man from the Red Cross to their HQ on Riverside east of downtown and went in with him. Inside the building there was a scene of controlled chaos. The staff of the Red Cross was busy getting shelters set up, staffed, and supplies staged to the many locations scattered across the region around Fort Worth. We soon learned that supplies were scarce but we did get some regardless but not as much as we wanted. We loaded it up and returned back to the bus staging area and unloaded the materials.
And later more buses came by filled with more tired and dazed people who simply wanted a place to be comfortable and get a hot meal. We handed out water and chips and then we left for home when the overnight shift came on.
That week we were not needed but the next weekend we were called up again to staff the Emergency HQ at the Police Academy. That day was anticlimactic to the previous weekend. We just answered a few phone calls and forwarded messages to the Fort Worth response teams who were in the room with us. No more buses filled with tired and griping people that day.
But yet our efforts did affect them of course without us seeing the results. And perhaps that is the lesson to be drawn from those two weekends. There is more than one way to help out those who need help. You can do something hands on like go on a crowded bus or you can work behind the scenes where no one will ever know who you are or what you did. You don’t have to give a lot of money or be in the public eye to help out your fellow man, but at least make the effort, even in a small way, to help someone else from time to time.