Deacon Bob Bridwell, from St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sanford, is assisting flood victims in Louisiana as a volunteer. Here he shares his experiences.
Friday, September 2, Baton Rouge
This morning when we reported, we received a new assignment, the St. Louis DRC (disaster recovery center). A DRC is where people who are not living in a shelter go to apply for assistance. FEMA and SBA (Small Business Administration) operate out of these centers and take applications for assistance. Some of the same things happen here as they do in a shelter but activity is much greater. The shelter has a finite number of people but the DRC has a continuous flow of applicants seeking recovery of their physical and fiscal losses.
In the shelter there’s a palpable feeling of sadness. In the DRC people are about their business and many just seem more hopeful. For one thing they aren’t being subjected to be packed with 200 other people day and night. Folks also seem more inclined to be moving on with their lives.
As Catholic Charities agents we were busier. A constant flow of people came to our work stations and we were doing many more intake interviews. We still tried to take time to listen and understand people’s stories. And our moods had become more upbeat.
Saturday and Sunday, September 3-4, Baton Rouge
This morning before we left for the DRC I pulled up WRAL and read about the rain from Hermine. My wife had called the night before to complain about all the rain. I kidded her about how she also complained about the lack of rain before I left for Baton Rouge. Later in the day I would receive a text from my sister in Virginia Beach saying that I should get on the plane and help them up there. It reminded me that we live in a world that is always subject to disaster. There will be earthquakes in Oklahoma, tornadoes on the Outer banks and war in the Middle East. We always need to look to God for guidance.
I met with a 95 year old man and his 94 year old wife this afternoon. They were about the business of getting their life back together. They didn’t seem anxious or worried. It seemed to me that they took this as just another adventure that God had provided and they were ready for whatever came next. The man told me that he was a Navy pilot during WWII and that he looked at the disaster much like he looked at the next combat mission. Remarkable!