"Walking the Walk": Hurricane Katrina Relief

Baron Pavel, from Grimfells in the Kingdom of Calontir, relates how he spent a day helping with hurricane relief by volunteering at a distribution warehouse.

Pavel writes:

I took today as a vacation day and worked at the local hurricane relief center. Was a very good experience. I am thinking of maybe taking next Friday also. It will take me rest of weekend to recover.

I got there at 9am and unloaded my van load of canned good. It is taking place in a closed down tortilla chip factory. The city has put up very nice signs so it was easy to find. I was impressed with the signs. They are just like the city signs.

After signing in they told me to go to the back and "see what you can do". When I got back there it was one Wal-Mart guy, he runs one of Wal-Mart's warehouses, and about 40 older ladies. We were put to sorting out boxes of "stuff". It seems that there has been a lot of collections taken up of "stuff" and it is sitting around with no one knowing what to do with it. So we here in Grimfells, well Fayetteville anyway, are sorting these trucks of "stuff' into useful pallets of "Woman's Clothes", "Shoes", "Can Good/Dry Goods", "Baby Supplies" and so on. The Building is being used as a very large warehouse and distribution center. The State FEMA person cried when she saw what we were accomplishing. She made the request of 3 trucks for 3 of our survivor camps. She was able to ask for so much men's, boys, girls, woman's clothes. So much baby supplies, So much toys, so much bedding and so on. We were able to build her truck loads as she needed. She cried.

But the real work is the separation. It is taking thousands of man hours to build the pallets of folded, clean and sorted stuff.

I, being a Battle Cruiser class guy was asked to help unload one of the "stuff" trucks. Oddie, one of the shire's newbies had come with me and he is also of the BC class. (classic Polynesian warrior type, Long dark hair and WIDE shoulders.) So he and I were "assigned" to work with this little shriveled, 72 year old, retired engineer. That old man worked us to the ground! He was a unending force of nature! The truck was filled to the roof with boxes and plastic bags of "stuff". Mostly clothes, but also food, and toys, and at least one pallet of huggies. At first we would build pallets of the bags using plastic wrap and hand forklifts. But after a while Wal-Mart brought us 2-3 dozen shopping carts to use. Those shopping carts were much easier to load and unload and move around.

I have to say how proud I am of the local businesses. Wal-Mart supplied all the boxes, nice ones too. They supply the expertise for warehouse management, and quite a few of the later workers in the day were Wal-Mart workers. They also supplied the break room with water, soda, and snacks. JB Hunt trucking company supplied 3 large gas forklifts, all the pallets and drivers for the trucks and forklifts. Two local restaurants sent over lunch to feed the workers. About noon there were about 150 of us.

My mayor, Dan Coody, has been working there 12 hour days and still doing his mayor job since it opened. It was sort of fun watching him sorting clothes while his staff had him signing reports and doing meetings. He was dressed to work and they were all low level political wonks. Funny note, one of the wonks tried to start a "hate Bush" speech in the break room and almost got disemboweled by the church ladies. Most of the folks doing the work were from local churches, though a batch of young campus republicans and one of the black Frats did show up for a couple of hours. It was mostly old folks, WWII gen folks who did the work. My mayor is a Dem, but he works and cares like a Republican. (He could have easy run as a Libertarian with his policies. But here you don't run as a third party.) I am very impressed with him after this day sorting shirts with him.

All in all was a great day. I am in much pain as I help unload and sort a 40' trailer of "stuff", moving it all by hand till it was boxed and put on pallets for the warehouse team. Now for the major pain meds, pizza and all the bleu cheese I can eat.

An Ugly, Proud, American.

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