Like most of America, I’ve been watching the coverage of Sandy for the last two days. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected, and I breathe a sigh of relief with each new Facebook post saying that another friend is safe. There are so many images of unimaginable destruction and loss, but one in particular has stuck with me.
A truck with an enclosed van is being used to evacuate people. A step ladder has been placed against the back of the truck, and evacuees are using it to climb in. One little girl clutching a doll under her arm climbs the first few steps and is then lifted the rest of the way in. An even smaller girl by-passes the ladder altogether as a large man picks her up and lifts her into the waiting arms of a rescuer.
Then comes an older woman, gray haired, stoop shouldered, unsteady. She creeps up the ladder with helping hands on her arms, more hands supporting her back, finally getting her into the truck. I wonder if she’s cold, frightened, confused, if the helping hands chafed thin skin or left bruises on delicate arms. Did she have time to gather her medications, her insurance identifications, the names of her doctors? Does she have a caregiver to sit with her and explain what is going on and where she is going? Or is she alone, leaving the only home she has ever known, going to an impersonal shelter where no one knows her or where she belongs?
We lived in Florida for six years before we retired and moved back to Texas. We were not hit by a major storm while we were there, but there were warnings, and we made plans. Mom and Dad were with us, and their needs were central in our plans. If disaster had struck, we would have been there to care for them.
The picture of that gray-haired lady, struggling to get into the back of that truck haunts me. I can’t be there for her except in prayer and remote relief efforts, but if you are there, keep an eye out for her or someone like her in this disaster or another one. If she has no one else, please step in and take care of her.