HAMMOND — Caroline Ory Thompson, a Red Cross volunteer and shelter manager from Hammond, worked feverishly Aug. 28 to get things ready to shelter people from Hurricane Isaac.
But despite the anxiety of the storm, the evacuees worked together to make the shelter comfortable.
The emergency Red Cross shelter opened its doors Aug. 27 to people seeking shelter from the storm. On Aug. 28, five people were already waiting for the shelter to open at Hammond Junior High.
Thompson said the preparation was intense.
“We could always use more volunteers, especially when it comes to this,” Thompson said.
The goal, she said, “is to have a safe, secure and sanitary place where people can be out of the weather.”
It’s about making people comfortable, Thompson said.
Thompson began her Red Cross volunteer work following Hurricane Katrina. She is retired from the U.S. Air Force and also spent four years in Gulfport, Miss., where she operated Red Cross stations. In 2010, Thompson moved back to Hammond.
“It’s a rush,” Thompson said of her volunteer work. “I thrive on it. It’s what I do.”
“It feels good to help,” Thompson added.
Alice Jolivett, of Marrero, left her home early the morning of Aug. 28 looking for a safe place to weather the storm.
“We just took off for the closest place for shelter,” Jolivett said.
Jolivett, who was in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, said, “It was a disaster. We were terrified.”
Before the storm, the shelter was fully stocked with food, Meals Ready to Eat and water but had little milk.
An evacuee, John Carter, of Ponchatoula, stepped in and purchased some milk for the other evacuees.
“That’s what it’s supposed to be,” Thompson said. “People helping each other.”
“I was trying to be nice,” Carter said. “I believe in giving back.”
“We’re supposed to help one another,” John’s wife, Hope Carter, said.
In addition to the evacuees who trickled in throughout the day, the shelter at Hammond Junior High School took in more than 70 Spanish-speaking employees of Elmer’s Candy Corporation.
The employees took to one hall in the school, and Americorp volunteer Ana Rea, who came to Louisiana to respond to the disaster relief, translated their needs to Thompson.
“It all seemed to fall in place,” Thompson said.
To become a Red Cross volunteer, http://www.redcross.org.