Lisa Clark has seen the reality of what Hurricane Harvey did to southern Texas.
Clark, the assistant director of nursing at Washington Center in Argyle, and her husband, Charlie, left Albany on Saturday to volunteer for the American Red Cross, and Clark is working at the Lively Pointe Youth Center in Irving, Texas.
“A small new friend of mine, Jenette, 13, has a vivid memory of hanging onto the roof and watching a frog trying to swim against the current. She keeps talking about that frog. They were all rescued by the Cajun Navy and brought to a shelter,” Clark said in a Facebook post, referring to the flotilla of small boats that came to Texas from Louisiana to help rescue people.
All 114 residents of the shelter are from Dickinson, Texas, and each spoke to her about being in chest-deep water overnight, waiting to be rescued and taken to a shelter. She heard more about that from an evacuee named Dan.
“That shelter flooded. They were bused out and dropped onto a highway. Dan said, ‘It was like a war zone.’ He said he was passed up by rescuers multiple times because he had his dog with him, but in no way was he going to abandon Hobo, the spaniel.
“Finally, these 114 people were brought to an airport where they boarded a C-130 cargo plane. They were brought to Dallas, bused to Irving and processed into this shelter,” she wrote, then went on to describe just how bad the situation was.
“These folks have nothing to go home to. They don’t have a home anymore. They had only the clothes on their backs,” she continued. “Many had no shoes. Most had no meds, have lost their glasses, and had to leave behind wheelchairs. Health Services is working our tails off to fill these needs.”
But, she wrote, the residents of the shelter have pulled together.
“These families have bonded. Lively Pointe is a community. The kids are laughing today,” she wrote. “But they want to tell their stories. And I want to listen. The adults are trying to mask their pain but it’s getting harder. Hugs are free and all Red Cross workers seem to have a never-ending supply.”
Though the couple traveled to Texas together, they have been separated, and Charlie Clark is working at a large shelter near Dallas.
“I have to say, the city of Irving, Texas, has been amazing. I mean, just totally selfless, giving, responsive. Labor Day barbecue, grilling done by the water department, the mayor, his wife, and all city staff were there,” wrote Lisa Clark, who sent a thank-you message to city officials. “These people are lucky to be here. Sounds weird. ... It was unlucky that they had to come here, but you have enabled them to make Irving home, if even temporarily.”
The Albany area Red Cross expected to train 60 more volunteers Tuesday, on top of 150 last week, and there are three more training sessions coming, including one in Saratoga Springs.
Few of the 80 volunteers trained in Glens Falls last week have been sent south yet, but Red Cross officials indicated they felt the cleanup effort would take months.
Meanwhile, they have their eyes on Hurricane Irma, which has hit Category 5, the most severe status, and could hit Florida hard.
“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,” Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, told the Associated Press.
It took an extra day for the Clarks to get their luggage, but Lisa Clark admitted it wasn’t really that bad.
“We finally received our luggage around midnight last night. However, after having spent my first day in the shelter, I felt like my complaining about lack of clean socks for one day was somewhat ... no, a lot ... ridiculous, compared to what these folks are dealing with.”