I worked my first full day today at one of the Red Cross overflow shelters here in Houston. How naive was I when my sister and I first pulled into the converted churches gym building... I actually thought, wow there are not many people here because I was judging by the cars in the parking lot. One word... duh. To say these people are in shock is to not fully understand their state of being. The outpouring on just this small overflow location was unbelievable. It was hard for me to comprehend what then was being received volume wise by locations such as the Astro-dome. I worked a full 8 hours doing various "organizing" things as well as passing out the items I'd organized. Were talking everything from underwear to toys to Scope. The first part of my day was opening and organizing the boxes upon boxes of toys. I'd make other boxes of organized items like crayons, coloring books, puzzles, barbies, jump ropes etc. Then once I'd finished my whole area we'd open it up for the children a few at a time to come in and pick out a few toys. I then moved on to sorting toiletries, clothing, diapers by size oh boy you name it we had it! We'd make up starter packages of shampoo, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, razors and the such and pass them out to the new incoming people. We'd locate and pass out shoes, socks, underwear, towels and washcloths... again, these people came with NOTHING! Houston has done an amazing job as far as I'm concerned. I can only speak for the shelter I was at, but I was told yesterday they took everyone to the Astros game, and tonight they took everyone who wanted to go, to the local high school football game. They served warm hot meals and had plenty of snacks juice and water on hand. It's not perfect but it was impressive.
I met many many people today but one of the best stories was this: A young mother came in with her tiny tiny baby. I asked her first how old? "5 days" she replied. "What's her name?" "Katrina" and of course she saw the stunned look on my face as I'm sure she's seen on others for 5 days. She filled me in with her standard by now I'm sure. "Yes, we thought about it hard... naming her after a hurricane and all, wondering if it would make me think back to this, but she came through, she brought us through, it is the celebration of our daughters life."
I looked up the meaning of the name Katrina: "Beloved"... and while it wasn't the right name for a hurricane, it's absolutely the right name for this child.