There were two slide presentations to start. One by a guy that got out with his family the day before the storm, and went to Texas and ended up here in Longmont with his whole family. He was a photographer, and he has a series of pictures he'd taken in the six months after the storm, when he'd first thought he was going to go back, work on the house, make it better and they'd go back; but as it became obvious fewer and fewer people could come back, and the most comfortable his family got here in Longmont, the less convinced they were that they'd go back. So now they just live here; but he likes to remind folks that things are still pretty broken down there.
The other was a Boulder Firefighter, who got hired by FEMA after her first few weeks' stint down there, as a volunteer. She spent weeks with the National Guard pulling people off and out of houses, then with the Red Cross and FEMA to help set people up, supply folks that didn't want to or couldn't leave, and she still feels like it was a surreal time of her life. I like that she referred to FEMA as "the F-word". *giggles far too much*
She was really nervous, but she had 100's of pictures of pulling people out of the water, the 21 foot water mark, the upsidedown trucks slammed into foundations, and the thousands of FEMA trailers she helped set up. 6-month solutions that had to last three or four years or more...
Then we had a feast, and while we had far more people than we expected, there was plenty of food for all, including 50 pounds of red potatoes for only 80 some-odd people. But we threw newspaper on all the tables and just poured buckets' worth of shrimp, potatoes, sausages, and sweet corn on the tables. They also served corn bread and red beans and rice. It was amazing how much food there ended up being, we have leftovers for probably the week before we go. *laughs* The shrimp and corn were so spicy I cried while eating them; but they were really, really good.
The brother-in-law of the photographer had already set up a sandwich and soup shop here in town, and he used to do seafood prep in New Orleans. Most of the natives there actually do avoid red meat on Fridays, just as a matter of course, especially given the beauty of the seafood down there; and he was an expert at it. So he did the shrimp boil. Gosh it was great.
Everyone donated what they thought they should. All the volunteer workers going down have paid their own airplane tickets, as well as are bringing our own tools, and took the time off for the week. The money will go for car rentals, food, and the hotel rooms at the end of the week in New Orleans, if there's enough. We're staying at a Catholic work hall, where there's eight beds to a room, showers, and a kitchen, where they'll supply us the stuff to make breakfast if we like. There's an ex-Army chef coming along, who is quite willing to be up at 6 to make everyone pancakes. I'm kinda looking forward to that. *laughs*
It ended up being a $1500 haul, from just 80 people, a few dozen of which were involved in the cooking, setting up, and tearing down as well as doing the presentations. That was pretty amazing... and tomorrow we're asking for a special dedicated donation as well during the Jazz service. It'll be kinda cool, I think.