I went the Red Cross center in Bryan and spoke to the many volunteers that were hanging out there. I wanted to ask basic questions, simple things like "how many?" and "when?" but they didn't even know. We're already asking about the long term but they're still perfecting the short term.
The Brazos Valley is still filled with evacuees, not the refugees. They don't know when the refugees will start arriving. There's been no word from Houston and all the local leaders and planners were in a meeting. People are asking question just like me, demanding hard numbers and extended plans that just haven't been written down yet. We've heard that the number of evacuees already in the area ranges from 1600 to 2700.
Some of the volunteers were brand new and that can cause problems. When I went and filled out my application, I asked a simply question but the cheerful reply was, "I don't know. I just filled that same form a couple hours ago." Earlier, I was frustrated with the lady in charge of the Intake Center and she was frustrated with one of the shelters. The gentleman I spoke to was frustrated that he didn't have communication with the bosses and couldn't relay detailed information to everybody else. There were other frustrations in the shelters about who was in charge of which aspect.
The Red Cross is desperately trying to prepare for coming refugees. They don't know when the buses will be here but we all know that they will be coming. The center was compiling a list to call people on short notice. The calm before this storm -a storm of people- is frazzling ends. It could be 2pm or 2am. It could be busses from Houston or buses that came directly from New Orleans. Will the people all want a shower first? Will they need a meal when they come or will they have already eaten on the road? Behind the back of the Red Cross, private organizations are setting up shops, ready to come to the aid too. Businesses are setting up employments. Churches are setting up carpools. Nothing has come together....yet. The Orchestra is tuning but has yet to play together.
Starting this morning, more evacuees continued to pour into the shelters. They're coming in out of funds, clean clothes, and supplies. But yet again, they were all fed and cared for. The thanks the volunteers received was genuine. The happy little band of volunteers played together just fine. The hard work in the background continues, away from the eyes of the general public.
But this stress and frustration is merely part of our desire to do the absolute best possible. It's part of our American psyche, our Texas hearts, and our love for these people. We are so concerned, that we are bending over backwards. It's a blessing, not a curse, when you have so many volunteers, so many businesses pulling together, that you have triple the organizational work. The refugees are gonna get a performance that will sweep them right off their feet and into a bed. I'm sure that if they could, these great volunteers would have a red carpet and a band playing for them.