Tuesday, September 06, 2005

One of the Families

A family I dealt with a lot was a mom with three girls - one about 12 or 13, and then two little ones. The mom also had a disabled man with her, my guess is it is her brother; I didn't ask. The mom was well educated, and the children were following that path, too. The children were extremely respectful - lots of "Excuse me's" and "Thank you's." The teen girl was so cute, just running around - you could tell she was such a social butterfly. She was so excited when I was able to find her a brand new hair brush set with a little mirror (there were practically no hair brushes.)
The mom said they had evacuated during the last hurricane, but that it had been so expensive - gas money, hotel, eating out - that she decided not to this time. "I can't tell you how much I regret that decision," she said. "I wish my kids hadn't been through that." She said they had lost everything, had nothing left. She had been very strong for her children, but she did break down when she told me this.
When she arrived Saturday, she hadn't been able to talk with any of her other family members. "They all think I'm dead," she said. All the phone numbers she needed were in her cell phone, and her cell phone was dead. She didn't have her charger. She did know one phone number, she thought, but it wasn't working in the phones set up at the shelter. I offered the use of my cell phone. The first time we tried it wasn't the right person. The second time she was put through to voice mail. We didn't know if it was her family member, but we hoped for the best.
I left her because I needed to help other people, and the day went on. Three or four hours later, I hear my phone ringing in my pocket. I look down, and it is the number she called. I answer it and say, "Yes! Yes! Let me find her!" I am all the way across the convention center, which is massive, and I run all the way over to where her beds are and hand her the phone. They make contact, and she and her oldest daughter immediately start crying. They are alive and so are her relatives!
Of all the things that happened that day - the safety, the comfort, the food, the caring - she said that was the best part - letting her family know that she was alive.

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