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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Evacuees Have Arrived

I think in the time I have to spare over the next few weeks, I will spend some time posting on any experiences or work I have the opportunity to involve myself with regarding the Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Saturday afternoon, as I sat lazily watching a Rodney Dangerfield movie, a call to help scrolled across the bottom of the screen. Lubbock was expecting 1000 evacuees by the end of the day and the Red Cross was in immediate need of food, snacks and blankets for our new guests.

I had planned on spending my long Labor Day weekend sleeping, working on my "shelf check" for Law Review and researching my student comment. Initially this action call did little to change my mind.

However, after laying there watching Rodney for a half-hour, a great tinge of guilt took hold. For nearly a week I'd talked to friends and relatives about the fact that "I wish I could do something . . . " And now there I was laying in bed watching a movie when there was "something" to be done.

So I got up, got dressed and we went to the Dollar Tree. After loading up on bottled water, individually packaged cookies and Spam, we hauled it over to the Red Cross offices. I never intended to become more involved, but as we were carrying our load back and forth to a truck, I asked if they needed "any more bodies."

Next thing I know, I'm filling out a volunteer application.

But they'd had enough volunteers. What they really needed were individuals with medical or counseling training/experience.

Again, guilt.

I could have ignored his question since my training only consisted of a couple classes in Preaching College. My experience was not that great, either.

Sunday morning I spent 2 hours going through the crash-course training session. An hour later, during lunch, I received a call that the first evacuees were arriving and they needed 7 volunteers to help with counseling.

I was so scared and nervous, my lunch came back up on me. My family in other parts tell me: "You are so lucky, you actually get to do something to help."

Yeah, lucky. You watch it on television and you give money and you pray . . .

But when actually called on with the expectations that you will be the person to listen to their stories, to hold them, to hug them, to cry with them, to attempt to reassure them . . . to renew their hope.

Lucky? I would've let anyone take my place.

But, then again, I was just so thankful I was not in their place . . .

So I showed up with my Bible in hand and after being bounced from area to area, I arrived at the Mental Health area -- where I was told I wasn't needed at the moment. So they had me fill out my credentials and availability.

In doing so, I wrote down "former-minister/law student." The guy next to me was a pastor. So he grabbed me and took me to join the clergy that was beginning to congregate.

As a group, and now a member of the "clergy," we were introduced to the Chapel that had been set up for this new city of displaced N'Oleanians.

We were told they'd been told they were going to Houston. They found out they would be living in Lubbock when they got off the plane. We were told some had died while the plane was en route. We were told they were tired, angry, and hopeless.

All I saw were smiles though.

I did not get to counsel that day. I spent six hours shaking hands, patting backs, and hugging people. I passed out "God Bless You"s and "Welcome to Lubbock"s and had each returned in kind, with smiles so big . . .

it breaks your heart. Mine, I can't hardly keep from crying right now.

So these people are now Lubbockites for awhile. They are our neighbors, our guests, our friends . . .

We are hoping to show them why the people of Lubbock are so great. We are hoping to restore some stability to their lives.

As I encounter them and hear their stories. As I have more stories of my own, I will share them here.

Maybe not so much for your benefit. I think, perhaps, its more for mine.


Blogger the invisible romantic said...

But I, for one, will certainly get a great deal out of hearing them.

Kudos to you; a thousand times over.

9/06/2005 9:55 AM  
Blogger Elle Woods said...

Snaps for you!

I wish there was some way for me to be actively involved like that. I've been thinking I'd go down to LA over Christmas break and just do anything I can since I'm sure there will still be plenty to do.

9/06/2005 7:52 PM  

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