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Knitting Pipeline is sponsored by Quince & Co. and Knitcircus Yarns

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tornado Day 5

I got to the church a little later this morning, about 8:25 AM.  I was up around 6 AM and ran around the house tidying up and cleaning.  It seems I have more energy than normal.

When I arrived at the church the kitchen was busy and the food line active. Mary was making pancakes on a huge griddle on the stove.  Pancakes were flying out of the kitchen as fast as she could flip them. We also had sausage, oatmeal, and egg casserole with the usual baked goods, donuts, bagels. Restaurants such as Panera's are donating pastries and I'm eating my share.  I am eating more than normal and after spending last week in Maine doing the same, I can tell I'm ballooning.

When there is a lull in the kitchen I've been tackling some much needed cleaning and organization at the church.  When my sister and mom hear this they are going to be surprised as this sort of thing does not come naturally to me.  Yesterday I cleared off an entire counter of JUNK so we had working space for making mashed potatoes (Instant, thank you!).  There was essentially a lost and found pile there that was basically old pans and serving pieces that people never picked up after a potluck.  This was stealing valuable kitchen real estate. That was so satisfying that I cleaned up a few sinks, scrubbed them (including faucets), and sterilized. Today's self-assigned task was cleaning out one of the refrigerators.  It was dirty and there was food in there that no one else had the guts to throw out. Guess what?  I have the courage!  Hurrah for a clean refrigerator.

About the time the refrigerator was done and I had eaten my second breakfast of the day I was asked to make mashed potatoes again.  I was basically making mashed potatoes with the big mixer from about 10:00 AM to 2 PM, maybe later.  I went through 3 assistants and I called us "Spud Patrol".  The best part of making mashed potatoes at the church is that when you are done you just take the big dirty bowl, attachments, and all spoons and spatulas and hand them over the the dishwasher crew.  We have an industrial type dishwasher that sterilizes the pans and dishes.  We are not supposed to wash things by hand because they need to be sterilized.

While we are serving hot food from 7 to 7 there are meals going out to the field.  Today was easier as there was a barbecue truck that was doing some of the heavy work. I'm not doing much on that side of the relief operation but it is a big part of helping.  We didn't make main dishes for lunch today, just the sides, which for me meant mashed potatoes.  I'm going to pass on mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.

Mid-morning Pastor Tom announced that our big generator would be shut down and there would be a 15 minute gap until the city electrical was up and running at Crossroads.  At that time I had to stop making potatoes as we needed electricity for the mixer. Other folks were working in the kitchen by flashlight.  During that time I visited with people and also posted a few photos on Instagram.

One thing I've never thought of in case of disaster is who actually coordinates relief efforts.* In this case, no one.  I am talking about people who arrive from out of town.  They have equipment and manpower but they don't know where to go.  The American Red Cross does not do this type of thing.  They provide relief and immediate needs such as food, shelter, and medical.  I was visiting with two young men who asked me where they could help.  They had chain saws and pick up trucks.  One of them had driven down from Chicago.  I started asking around and found out that they need to register at City Hall but even then, they are not directed to anyone's property.  This seems to be a big gap and I hope it gets better in the weeks ahead.

One of the pleasures of the relief efforts is meeting wonderful caring people. As I've said in previous posts, Mary was a great help and we clicked right away.  The ladies of the Apostolic Christian Church are hard workers and lovely people.  I have new friends that I may never see again but I won't forget their kindnesses.

Another organizational task was tackling the kitchen supply room.  This is actually a nursery under the usual circumstances.  So many donations of food have come in that we were losing track of what we had and what was perishable.  I recruited some of the ladies from Apostolic Christian Churches who were already at the church.  We organized semi-perishables such as bagels, breads, pastries, fruit.  We put all those on one table so they would be used soon.  We also tidied up the canned goods, oils, coffee, and other staples.  That reminds me, we need sugar.

After that I packed up some food for my mother in law and husband and headed home about 7 PM.

Thank you all for your kind messages on previous posts.  I seem to like writing all this down at the end of the day as a kind of relaxation.

*After writing the post I read in the local paper:
Volunteers: People calling to volunteer in Washington should call the non-emergency number at 309.573.7000. Please leave a voicemail with your name and phone number. When volunteers are needed you will receive a call.

I'm not sure what that means for people who are already here and ready to help.


Nancy (needsyarn) said...

You are a dynamo! I hope no one asks you to mash the potatoes on Thanksgiving. ;)

Anonymous said...

Paula, just wanted to encourage you in your hard work. When the tornadoes came through in AL back in April of 2011, our home was without power for 5-6 days (but no damage). We chose to go stay with family, as we had 3 little ones at the time, but I wish I'd been able to *work* and help people so tangibly as you are. Praying that you will have good rest each night, and for the community, and for your mother-in-law, after the damage done at her home. --Hayley

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula,
I'm thinking of you during this difficult time for your hometown. I've read all of the tornado reports on your blog, and your posts on Ravelry. You've done a terrific job of documenting your days. Your posts have given me a real feel for what is happening in your town. Well done. You're fortunate to belong to a wonderful church where real good is being done every day. Being truly helpful is a blessing at this trying time.
Take good care,

Susieknitster said...

Paula you and everyone there are on my mind constantly. I wonder how some people will cope, but with wonderful people like you, things will eventually get better. Take care of yourself and you know if there is anything we knitters can do, just say the word. God Bless

bellasocks said...

Thanks for your updates Paula. You are doing such wonderful work for your community. Sending love, hugs and prayers.

Lane said...

Paula you contiune to be an inspriation not only as a knitter but just a human. Praying for your community during this time.

Susan said...


The non-emergency number for volunteers prior to coming into the area is a good first step.

For those already in the area your fire department may have a coordination effort set up. Incident command is a skill they practice for all types of disasters, not just fires. I suggest calling to see if this is a service they are providing.

I do know very often the coordination of efforts lags the arrival of volunteers. It is definitely a frustration in every disaster.

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I play the Great Highland Pipes, knit, observe nature, and read. My name on Ravelry is PrairiePiper. Find me on Instagram as KnittingPipeline.