‘Houston, we have dinner’
First Baptist Concord crew helps prepare 55,000 meals for Texas hurricane victims, clean up
While pans were sizzling and pots were boiling for victims of Hurricane Harvey, church members also were ripping ruined sheetrock and carpet out of the homes of flood victims.
Allen Krueger, director of service outreach at FBC, headed up the teams. Twelve were on the cooking team, five were on the mud-out team in charge of sheetrock and carpet and two manned a shower trailer, since volunteers were spending their nights in a nearby church.
In just one week, FBC member Carol Webb and her cooking team produced 55,000 meals.
“We had food on by 4:45 every morning,” Webb said.
Under her direction, 32 volunteers from Tennessee, including 25 from the Knoxville area and the crew of 12 from First Baptist Concord had a few hours early each morning, from Monday, Sept. 11, into Sunday, Sept. 17, to get thousands of lunches ready.
By 10 a.m., the Red Cross was there to pick them up.
“By then we would have cooked 3,300 meals,” she said. “We might do beef stew, rice and beans or carrots or corn. When you serve it on the plate, you want it to be appealing to the person. They’re hungry and it’s hot food … We cooked 8,500 meals one day.”
There was no slowing down after the pick-up though, because at 3 p.m. the Red Cross was back for dinner meals.
“We left on [Saturday], Sept. 9,” Webb said, “and got to Sugar Land, Texas, on Sunday [Sept. 10]. … We got home on Sept. 18.”
“There was a kitchen already down there from Kingsport,” added Webb, a trained “blue cap” with the church’s disaster relief team and a 17-year member. “This team was sent to relieve the first team that was there.”
Their portable kitchen was set up under a big tent in a church parking lot, with two refrigerated semi trucks and a box truck sitting nearby where the food was stored.
“Three people from Concord were on
the inventory team,” Webb said, including her husband, Terry Webb. “That was
probably the hardest job, because they were out in the sun.”
In the evenings, the Farragut group would share their experiences, since a few volunteers got to go out with the Red Cross.
“The people who went out on the emergency rescue vehicles got to see the hurricane damage,” Carol Webb said. “Sometimes the Red Cross took the meals to a central location and sometimes they took them to a community and with their loudspeaker on would say, ‘Free food,’ and the people would come out and get food.
“First of the week they found a church, a Catholic church that was trying to feed 1,500 people each meal,” she added. “The people were coming out of flooded water to get to the church to get food and then go back into the flooded water to go to their homes. So they started taking them 1,500 meals every day for each meal.
As for her motivation, “It’s just something I’ve got a passion for. That’s what God called me to do,” Carol Webb said.
Carol said she told her team that by the end of the week she hoped they had the same passion for disaster relief that she did: “that when there is a call, you will say, ‘I’ve got to go,’ you’ll just change your plans, whatever is going on and you go.”
Terry Webb counted 19,000 steps in one day taking food off trucks and walking around the tent area.
“By the end of the day, we were ready for bed,” he said. “We were worn out.”
Terry has been on eight or nine disaster relief trips, he said.
Similar to Krueger, Carol has been on about 15.
“Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina. I don’t keep up. I couldn’t tell you. It’s a ministry God called me to,” Carol said.
At one location, “I stayed 16 weeks,” she said.
Carol’s next stop may be in Puerto Rico later this month.