The adventure continues…
Tuesday evening I arrived in Fayetteville, NC. During my last flight, I was on a very small plane, throughout the flight I had a long conversation with an elderly lady sitting next to me. She shared that she was coming back home for the first time since Hurricane Matthew. As we were landing, the sun was just setting and we could see some of the destruction that had happened. I could see quiet tears running down her cheeks as she stared at the window, I reached over and gently held her hand as we landed. No words were spoken but we hugged one another and I knew at that moment, this was the only place I wanted to be.
It was a strange feeling walking off a the plane and not knowing who I was looking for, who was picking me up, or where I was going. Quickly I found my team members and we loaded into a van to Fort Braggs where the Red Cross base is. After a lot of logistics we were taken to our hotel for the evening. I won’t go into all the details, but it was a long night. The night included knocks on the door from unwelcomed guests and also bugs. None of this seemed to bother me though, you learn quickly to roll with things and just laugh (a lot) along the adventure. It’s pretty crazy how quickly hundreds of “strangers” become your closer friends when you are all thrown together to accomplish the same purpose.
Wednesday morning we thankfully checked out of that hotel. After a lot of “hurry up and wait” we finally arrived at the shelter! As I mentioned before we are at a shelter with 48 residents, 11 of whom are children. We were greeted very warmly and enthusiastically as many expressed “we’ve been waiting for you!” “Where have you been?!”
The Red Cross shelter leader gave me a tour of the shelter, as we were touring and he was showing me the room where all the residents are sleeping, a young girl came running over and gave me the sweetest hug. When I told her I was there to spend time with her, her mothers eyes were filled with tears as she said “you don’t know how much that means.”
We couldn’t set up our space quick enough as a couple children didn’t want to wait. We spent the rest of the day playing and getting know a few of the children who have been living in the shelter. I particularly enjoyed getting to know a 6yo little girl who had just started back at school. We sat working on her homework together and I loved the way we started to develop a relationship. It took some silly dancing and voices but eventually she allowed me to assist her with her homework. I’m looking forward to continuing fostering relationships and helping the children get a sense of “normal” back…
– Heather Storey