Thoughts on a storm...
Wow! Sunday September 14, 2008 was a wild one. The remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through Evansville and the surrounding area like, well, the remnants of a hurricane. I heard the winds reached 60+ mph as they whipped trees around, tossed unsecured objects, and broke or uprooted many of the stately (and not so stately) trees in our fine city leaving a mess behind and many families without power.
Monday I reported to work as usual at East Branch Library located next to Bayard Park only to find the power out and the park a shambles. Power lines were down. Transformers lie in pieces on the ground. Trees were uprooted. Trees were snapped in two. Large branches were lying across the new playground equipment the city had just finished installing in the park last week. It was a mess. Vectren was saying it would be days, possibly up to a week before everyone's power was back on. My power was out at home, but I felt lucky- we have a gas water heater and stove, so really we just needed to relocate our food to friends with electricity and dust off our oil lamps. We could deal with it! However, many people in the city were not so fortunate. They had not only lost power, but also had damage to their homes and cars. Many had lost their frozen food supply before they could find someone with electricity and room in their refrigerator. Many people were in need of a helping hand.
I was extremely fortunate that EVPL offered me the opportunity to be one of those helping hands. I was given the chance to volunteer for the Red Cross until power was restored to the library. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I arrived at the Red Cross that first day, but it turned out to be a bit of everything. I was put right to work picking chicken off the bone, then turning that chicken into over 200 sandwiches and assembling lunches for delivery into some of the hardest hit areas of the city. It didn't surprise me to find that our deliveries took us to the very neighborhood where the library is located. As we drove down the street in the Red Cross ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) we would look for people and ask them if their power was out. If they said "yes" we would offer them food and cold drinks and ask if there was anything they needed. They were always thankful that we were out offering food and assistance. I felt fortunate that I was in "East's neighborhood". I saw and helped a number of our patrons. A few of our patrons said it was nice that they saw a familiar face helping out. (And most asked if the library was okay and when it would be reopening!) It amazed me how quickly we ran out of the food and drinks we had taken. We immediately returned to the Red Cross, assembled more lunches and refilled the drink coolers. Then it was back out to the neighborhoods. We ended the day cleaning out the ERV, wiping down the coolers, and taking stock of everything for the next day. I definitely went home tired, but felt good about what I had done. The next day I worked in the Red Cross shelter. I helped prepare and serve meals. It was different than working in the field, but the people who came in for the meals were just as thankful as those in the neighborhoods.
It was a great feeling to know that I was able to provide some relief for families in need and I am thankful that EVPL permitted me to volunteer while East was without power.