Many times I have wondered that myself…. how did I get involved with disaster relief and why? Then I was straight up ask that question and it really made me take a look back, waaay back.
Without going into great detail I’ll share with you my disaster relief beginning. The morning of Aug. 24, 1992, a storm tide of 4 to 6 feet was measured in Biscayne Bay. Heights as high as nearly 17 feet were measured at the waterfront Burger King International HURRICANE ANDREW had blown ashore…I sat on my sofa watching in disbelief at the devastation. We had just moved from that area a few months before so I had many friends there that I could not reach.
- Mobile homes had almost no chance against Hurricane Andrew: 90 percent of mobile homes in the southern part of the county were destroyed. In Homestead, this number was at almost 100 percent with only nine of 1,176 mobile homes spared.
- 160,000 of Dade County residents became temporarily homeless.
- 1.4 million lost electricity and 150,000 lost telephone service
- The hurricane damaged or destroyed 9,500 traffic signs and signals, 3,300 miles of power lines, 3,000 water mains, 59 health facilities, 31 public schools, 32,900 acres offarmland and 82,000 businesses.
- The nationwide total death toll from Hurricane Andrew was 26, with another 40 people dying as an indirect result of the storm. In Florida, 15 died directly from the hurricane and another 29 died indirectly.
I had never seen anything like that in my life! I sat for days watching tent cities go up, listening for hours to reports about people that had lost everything. Babies with no diapers or formula, elderly with no food and no way to communicate torelief workers, supply trailers being held up by gunmen and looting was rampant. It was horrible, like something you see on tv in other countries. My heart was broken.
I couldn’t stand to listen anymore and just sit there…. Long story short…. within 2 weeks Robert and I had organized 2 tractor trailer loads of supplies and I was southbound with them headed to Miami. What I discovered when we rolled in was nothing like I had seen on tv. It was much much worse. The disarray, the suffering and the magnitude of it was mind blowing, life changing. Life changing needs to be repeated….. That was the first experience I had where I felt like I made a difference in someone’s life. A big difference!
Fast forward to New Orleans August 2005, Katrina devastates the region. By November we felt the need to help with the clean up. While there we observed the Southern Baptist feeding over 2000 meals a day, most of which were workers (including us). We knew with the background we had in BBQ and catering, disaster feeding was what we were destined to
In the following years we attended the SB training for disaster feeding and also the Red Cross Disaster Kitchen training. In April 2010 an F2 hit my home town of Albertville and we felt the despair of being a disaster victim ourselves. Then on April 2011 28 tornados hit North Alabama killing many and knocking out the TVA power grid. It was like being in a movie. Gas lines, no one had power and hot meals were in high demand. Our team was ready, we deployed along with many volunteers and went into action feeding over 30,000 in our community alone.
WHO IS OBR?
In early 2012 I had heard of a group of BBQ teams that had done the same thing that we were doing, cooking for victims that were devastated by natural disaster. OBR had formed a Non-Profit and wanted BBQ teams to join them. I had been following them on Facebook and praying for the teams that were giving so freely of their time and resources. Then when the Tornado hit Clay Alabama I made the call to see if I could help. That’s when our team had the opportunity to join forces with OBR. It was a coming together of some great people. We set up with 2 other teams in Clay and with the support of OBR it all worked and we were blessing people that had lost everything. Since then we have deployed with OBR to disasters all across the country. I have worked on the front lines and behind the scenes and it’s always rewarding to know I am helping as a team to get the job done. The relationship between OBR and the teams that volunteer are developing,
growing and doing wonderful things for people that are hurting. What I discovered during all this, people just need a little hope. If that comes from a hot plate of pulled pork and a hug then I’m proud and blessed to be a small part of that.
OBR is the vehicle and engine that clears the track for all of us BBQ teams to do what we do best, COOK GOOD FOOD, GIVE LOVE, SHARE HOPE.
God Bless You All