Hurricane Francis & Ivan Sept. 2004
"An act of God is hard to follow but the Red Cross does it all the time." - Anonymous
900 certified Disaster Services Volunteers formed up in an Atlanta hotel. By chance, we split up and the 17 of us met in a corner.
Read this first, it will tie it all together:
We met in Atlanta at a Red Cross staging area. We left at 8 PM and drove through Hurricane Francis as it hit the northern Gulf shores of Florida. We arrived in hotel in Jacksonville at 4 in the morning, the trip was very, very scarey. The next night we arrived at West Palm Beach and checked into a hotel with no power. Curfew. . . No one on streets, nothing open anyway. For the next 12 days, we delivered food door to door from a caterer (4 days), the Florida Culinary Institute (4 days), a Baptist kitchen (1 day, they left when Ivan was coming) and MREs (military meals ready to eat for 3 days). There were hundreds of crews for power, telephone, and tree removal on the streets each day, all day. The people were appreciative of the meals we fed because many had no food or any way to cook if they had food. The Red Cross feeds anyone that walks up to us and asks us for food. It's a good policy, it takes the responsibility off the worker to determine who has needs and who doesn't. After 12 days, almost all of the people had their power back , so we moved our feeding capabilities up to Pensacola after hurricane Ivan had struck the Gulf Coast. We don't exactly leave the remaining people high and dry, they still have the local chapter in West Palm Beach to rely on. In a caravan of 15 vehicles, we headed north to Tallahassee for our marching orders for hurricane Ivan. We were assigned Pensacola which was just east of the hardest hit portion. Three more of the original group went home, we were getting smaller. Again, no power, no water, many bridges out and the streets were a horrible mess. High traffic with no street lights and the interstate bridge was out. Total Chaos! We reported to a Hockey Arena and were told to sleep in our trucks. We ingeniously set up a campsite under a pedestrian bridge for the Arena. For the next week or so, we fed the hardest hit area of Florida. Speaking for myself, I fed the heavily damaged innercity area of Pensacola for 2 days and then volunteered for a kitchen north about 50 miles. Met many, many great people that have jointly experienced the Red Cross Experience. Giving is far better than receiving. This is not a Red Cross site so I can say this. "God bless the Red Cross and the victims it serves!"
Jim Edwards, just a tech.
800-354-1595 or 2129 Wittenberg NE, Louisville, Ohio 44641
(Just email me and I'll change any caption to suit!)
Staging (waiting to form up) is hard, you get impatient because you want to get to work.
Processing 900 of us in Altanta was a zoo, the expression on this girls face tells all..
The back side of the West Palm Beach Chapter house. We returned here after every meal and sterilized the cambros.
One of the pictures of hurricane damage
Jim & Bob waiting for a load of food
Bruce, our boss for a day. Caroline was with the Canadian Red Cross and studying International Relations
"Jack and the box" & Ken
Team loading, that is what made us a team
The first night in West Palm, we stayed at the Waterford Hotel with no power. 90 degrees in the room. WOW, Hot!
Oct 11th, "Scott and I have spoken to two groups, and one newspaper so far about our experience in Florida. It's just impossible to find words which adaquately express the magnitude of the destruction, the many miles and people who were affected. Its also impossible to express how the dedication, creativity and hard work of so many volunteers was appreciated." Margaret and Scott