By Diana Rodriguez-Beaugrand, Staff Contributor, American Red Cross
Like ants they move, Red Cross trucks aligned, and loading up boxes of hot meals from pallets stacked with food like green beans, hot dogs, fruit, water and other snacks at the Baptist kitchen in South Austin.
A few minutes later, Red Cross volunteers Vicki and Bill Lee out of Renton, Washington and Rowland Curry from Austin, are making their way down Arroyo Doble street, one of the Central Texas neighborhoods hardest hit by flash flooding less than one week ago. They sound the alarm on their Red Cross disaster vehicle and announce over a loud speaker, “Red Cross has free hot lunches, come on down.”
They hand off meals and snacks to the tired and hungry residents as they emerge from their flood ravaged homes.
For many, it’s the first meal they’ve had since the Red Cross truck was there the night before. For some like Jamie Fowler, it’s like déjà vu hearing and seeing that Red Cross truck rambling down their street. Jamie lived through the Katrina disaster ten years ago. She lost everything. She tears up as she gets in line to get a meal.
“The Red Cross fed us, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three months straight. Red cross is wonderful, I would give to Red Cross, always, I encourage everyone to. It’s a great organization, I can’t describe the way I feel about it.”
Vicky, Bill, and Rowland smile at those in line who surround the truck, serving up hot meals in to-go boxes for family members still working inside their damaged homes. Many say thank you, some loudly, some just mouth the words.
Vicki who’s serving the food from the truck window, just nods and smiles. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says, trying to fight back tears herself.
Together the three volunteers move down the road in that big truck, weaving their way around a street
piled high with people’s belongings and memories. They know the small gesture of a fresh meal goes a long way in helping families while they pick up the pieces and think about what’s next.
They’ll be back again tomorrow—with hot meals, hugs and flyers with more Red Cross recovery information—to do it all over again.