Monday, September 01, 2008

My Town Monday: Hurricane Gustav

The biggest news in Fort Worth, Texas on today's Labor Day holiday is the onslaught of evacuees arriving from the Louisiana coast. Today's paper (the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that one man and his family were the first to arrive in the area, but were told "evacuation centers in Dallas weren't ready, so they headed to Fort Worth to find refuge."


Our city is ready to go with more than eight community centers ready to serve as shelters, and six churches on standby. Fort Worth Mayor Moncrief further opened the welcome to those fleeing the hurricane by reminding workers, "Remember these folks are not evacuees--they are our guests."

Our family has filled out the necessary volunteer paperwork to assist our city's guests, and are waiting for the call to see how we can help. The difference in a few hundred miles is startling: today we have fair skies and warm weather. I spent yesterday afternoon in a lounge chair reading, while families packed up and spent hours in horrendous traffic fleeing their homes.

Instead of barbecuing, swimming, or relaxing with friends, these folks/evacuees/guests must spend the holiday anxiously watching news coverage to see how their homes, and hometowns, are faring. I can't imagine the emotional toll of facing such devastation twice in three years. Unlike them, today I'm safe in my brick house, hearing the chug of laundry, and eating a tuna fish sandwich. The simple calm, the gorgeous weather, my absolute blessedness, makes me feel inordinately grateful and helpless at the same time. So today in my hometown, I'm praying for God's mercy and for the chance to be a help.

If you want to volunteer, contact the Volunteer Center of North Texas. Cash donations may be sent to the American Red Cross at 817-335-9137 or you can click here.

And, if you're a praying person, lift up those whose lives, whose hometowns, might need it the most.

***UPDATE*** Wow, those volunteer coordinators are fast! We've been invited to help serve dinner at the Worth Heights community center near downtown Fort Worth. Consider us hair-netted and ready to go!



Blogger Barbara Martin said...

A timely post. I feel the same, living in an area not accustomed to severe weather patterns; although Toronto has had its share of toronado warnings and sightings this summer. In winter we get the odd storm system that moves in to dump snow with chilling temperatures that paralyzes the city and suburbs.

I have never lived anywhere where I had to leave due to evacuation, although I can imagine the anxiety associated with such an event.

My blessings go out to those still in Louisiana, like Charles Gramlich and his wife, Lana; though he did say in a blog post he would pack out if Gustav went to a Category 3.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Renae said...

As I recall, Fort Worth was very helpful to Katrina victims as well. Go cow-town! ;-)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

A snow dump sounds horrific. Brrr.

Yes, our thoughts are with Charles and Lana, too. I've checked their blogs, and they sound well.

Yes, Renae, Cow-Town is famous for our hospitality, one of the reasons I'm proud to call Ft. Worth home.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

You make a fellow Cowtowner proud! Way to extend some Texas hospitality! I've been praying as I've been grading papers today.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

Once again Fort Worth trumps big D. As if I needed antoher reason to like it better than it's big brother.

12:28 PM  
Blogger lyzzydee said...

We have been watching the storms here, its very frightening and we are not at risk in the same way. I hope that everyone stays safe.

12:44 PM  
Blogger debra said...

Your town understands Community. I wish you well and those still in threatened areas safe passage.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

A storm like this is such a good reminder to not sweat the small stuff. Way to go, Fort Worthians (is that even right?)!!!

3:08 PM  
Blogger Kern said...

There were almost as many volunteers yesterday as there were evacuees. We made a lot of new friends, especially Britta who immediately rounded up the little ones for a rousing game of concentration. Five year old Curtis from New Orleans was the champion. Hopefully, they will not have to do this again for a while, but we will welcome them back if they do. One girl was celebrating her birthday in the shelter just like she did in 2005. She said she loved Ft. Worth. I do too. Happy birthday LaJera!

9:58 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

Good for you for volunteering! Glad I don't live in bad weather country. Occasionally it snows a few inches in the Seattle area and that shuts things down for a day or 2 until it melts. We even had an earthquake in 2000, but it's been calm since then. Hope Gustav doesn't dump too much rain on you.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Aleta said...

*waving hand* I'm one of the Metairie (right outside of New Orleans) refugees.. *cough* guests, I mean. I didn't evacuate to Texas this year, rather we went to Hammond instead. But thank you with all that I can say, much more than those simple words can seem to muster together ~ for your kindness and open arms to my fellow Louisianians. I'm glad to be home and grateful for no damage, not from the hurricane or the three tornadoes that passed through the area or the flooding of the rains... very fortunate. But it's people like you who make the difficult passing of time a much more pleasant place ~ a kind heart is more than what one can ask for... it helps to life the spirit and that's a precious thing indeed. Thank You.

5:34 PM  
Blogger dee said...

Three of our writers were affected by the storm...andrea and her hubby are taking shifts manning the airways with other at sunny 103.3 in baton can tune in on the internet. Camille is in the gonzales area and got her pay check blow away due to the severe damage to the fed ex location in Baton Rouge. The publisher electronically tranfered her the money (kudos to them!)...Heather we still haven't heard from, but hope to hear something soon.....

8:38 PM  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Unfortunately New Orleanians had post-Katrina paranoia. Considering virtually nothing happened to New Orleans, now they'll go back to pre-Katrina laizzes-faire.
Ironically the contra-flow forced everyone TOWARD the storm, too. A lot of them went to Baton Rouge, which got hit MUCH harder than NOLA. If a hurricane's headed WEST of New Orleans, people should be allowed to leave to the EAST. But I guess that just makes too much sense...

3:56 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Alyssa, praying + grading = helping!

Travis, your sentiments make this Fort Worthian proud. We may be smaller in population, but we're bigger in heart.

Lyzzydee, the storms can be terrifying. The people we encountered came through safe, but unfortunately not everyone did. And now that Ike's on the way...

Thanks, Debra. A great way to judge a town, a state, a country is by the way it treats its citizens. And, perhaps more so, its guests.

Barrie, you are so right. While we were in the community center surrounded by people with, literally, only the clothes on their backs, it was a sharp reminder to be thankful for each day. And yes, Fort Worthian is totally acceptable.

The hurricane ate my paycheck? Dee, are you sure you're not making that up?

Aleta, hearty waves right back at you! I'm so glad you're safe and that you found safe passage. Thank you for your kind comments, and for stopping by the blog. Please come back often.

Anti-wife, earthquakes in Seattle? That's new to me. In our area a bit of snow shuts down everything. What would be mild baseball weather in Wisconsin is code red in central Texas. As in, it's below freezing! Cover your children and pets and, for the love, STAY INSIDE!

Lana, I'm concerned about how the recent evacuation (and the cost to those forced to flee) might lead to resistance in future storms. It costs money to up and leave everything, to buy the gas to drive, to pay for food on the road. For those already struggling with money issues, the choice to stay or go may come down, unfairly, to the price. I hope not, and I hope local services and volunteers will continue to make every effort to assist our neighbors.

Kern, you weren't so shabby with the Uno crowd either. And here's my wave to my Concentration card-playing buddies: TyJay, Jantrelle, Curtis, Shalea, Lakira, Patrick, Leon and Tory. I hope you all made it back safe, and that you are kept from harm's way. You are in my prayers.

2:50 PM  

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