FNC has received thousands of e-mails about their amazing experiences from the frontlines of Katrina's aftermath. One FOX Fan's story is below.
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Along with most of our fellow Americans, my husband and I were deeply moved by the devastating loss endured by the people on the Gulf Coast. We felt like we had to do something. Through a divinely ordained chain of events, I was put in touch with a vice president of a local bank with whom we had never had a business relationship. A plan unfolded that would help the folks displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It took two hours and several phone calls to firm up the details whereby we would park our 22-foot cargo trailer at one of their bank locations and a friend of ours would park his 38-foot cargo trailer on another bank lot across town. The bank promised to provide personnel to man the trailers. A local banner manufacturer donated $1,000 worth of signage and the area radio and TV stations agreed to mention our locations. This was on Wednesday, August 31.
We set out Thursday morning, and by 8:30 p.m. the people of the central Arkansas area had given over 20,000 lbs. of water and supplies. That was just to our group. The outpouring of donations, monetary and otherwise, at all drop-off locations was astounding. Those folks are nameless, but heroes nonetheless.
One elderly lady in particular stood out to us. When she walked up, it crossed my mind that she looked like we should be giving her some of the goods collected. Her shoes didn’t match and her clothes were tattered. However, she asked what types of donations we were accepting and assured us that she would be back with some supplies. SHE PROCEEDED TO MAKE THREE TRIPS TO OUR TRAILER, each time with her backseat loaded down with gifts. The third delivery included a brand-new baby stroller from the Wal-Mart across the street. She told us that she had lost her home this past May and understood what these folks down there were feeling. This woman’s efforts moved me to tears.
On Friday, we left Little Rock about 7:00 a.m. We had been told that fuel was quickly running out in Mississippi and were concerned about taking enough fuel with us so that we wouldn’t get stuck. It so happened that the bank vice-president’s husband had access to two 100-gallon fuel tanks that he gladly offered to us. In looking back, it would have been very difficult for our group to make it back had we not had access to those tanks. I had also gotten some information from a local radio station that FEMA had a checkpoint in Laurel, MS, but nothing specific. We decided that someone there would be able to point us in the right direction. At one point of our trip, we stopped at a convenience store for some snacks and a man pulled alongside us with a loaded trailer in tow. My husband asked where he was headed. He was in a convoy of 25 trucks and trailers headed to Wiggins, MS. Our hearts swelled with pride at our fellow Americans doing what they do best — uniting together for a worthy cause.
When we got to Laurel, someone told us that FEMA and Red Cross were set up at the fairgrounds, so we headed there. When we got there, my husband asked to speak to the person in charge. A weary-looking older lady wearing a Red Cross vest raised her hand. She looked tired and overwhelmed. My husband asked her if they needed supplies or should we head further south. She asked if we had water and began to cry when he told her yes. She continued to cry during the off-loading of our trailers. We estimate there were around 750 people at this location. The Red Cross lady told us they had soft drinks and styrofoam cups and that was it. They were turning folks away because they had no food or water and didn’t know when it would be arriving. My heart broke for these folks. They didn’t have anything. They had no food, no water, no diapers, no baby food, no toiletries, no toilet paper, nothing. The young men staying there gathered around our trailers and began unloading them. I couldn’t help but cry. I have a very nice life compared to most and I take it for granted every day.
The point of this story is to highlight the heroes with whom we’ve come in contact. However, there are too many to name. From the folks at the bank that stood in the sun to collect supplies, to the local corporations that helped us, to the people that gave the supplies, to the hundreds of trucks we passed heading that direction with their trailers loaded, to the military convoy we passed, to the relief workers we met at the fairgrounds…all of them are heroes. Our group played such an insignificant role in this. We were just along for the ride. We were PRIVILEGED to meet the real heroes. What remains so amazing to me is that we weren’t the first or last folks to do this. As I type, there are thousands of supplies heading that direction RIGHT NOW. Americans are the most giving people on the face of the earth. They band together and do what needs to be done.