Hurricane Ike Evacuees Express Appreciation for Emergency Food Boxes
September 15, 2008 § 1 Comment
More than 1,600 Hurricane Ike evacuees not staying at local shelters made their way to the Capital Area Food Bank on Monday to pick up emergency food boxes. Evacuees may not be able to return to their homes for another 4 to 6 weeks, and many have already run out of money to provide for themselves while they temporarily stay with relatives or friends. Supplies ran out at 2 p.m. Monday, forcing CAFB employees to regretfully turn some away.
Jack Buxton, a floral arranger from Galveston, is staying with his daughter in Austin. He learned about the emergency food boxes on News 8 and was grateful to receive the food that will provide for himself, his girlfriend and her two children in the days to come. “We had limited money that we brought, and now that is running out. I don’t want to be a burden on my daughter. Her husband just got laid off.”
Buxton’s boss already told him to file for unemployment, since there is no way to know when the flower store will have regular business again.
Many Hurricane Ike evacuees are fortunate to have loved ones house them and offer moral support. But many of the evacuees expressed sentiments of not wanting to impose on their Austin relatives who may have limited resources. Yolanda Gutierrez and eleven extended family members are staying in Austin with in-laws. They evacuated from Texas City with a week’s worth of clothes, some water and any dry goods they already had from their pantries. Although friends of their relatives gave Gutierrez’s family some food, twelve mouths is a lot to feed. Right now, the Food Bank is their only source of food. “The items provided [in the box] are very helpful. Soups, beans, things that children can eat.” Gutierrez has experience with emergency food boxes: her own church, where her husband is the pastor, has a food pantry that gives to the community every other week. “We are just very thankful. It’s nice to know that we can depend on the Food Bank here in Austin.”
Jeannette Britnell, a retiree from Orange, found out about CAFB’s emergency food boxes when she and her family went looking for help at an Austin area Goodwill. Britnell says she doesn’t know what condition her house is in, or even when she can return home. The assurance of receiving a food box, and the news that CAFB was also giving out dog food, allowed her to temporarily relax. “Altogether we have six dogs. They’re all small, but we had to bring them.” The only other items that Britnell was able to fit in the family car were some clothes and her oxygen machine, giving her no choice but to leave everything else behind. “I had a little bit of cash with me, and I spent it on groceries yesterday. It didn’t last long.”
Kim Denney and her thirteen year old daughter, Tera, evacuated from Lumberton to stay at a motel in the small town of Giddings, Texas. They drove an hour west to Austin this morning because they heard about the assistance CAFB was offering people. Denney and her daughter were grateful to receive “substantial food” and “something other than Ramen noodles” which is what the two have been eating for the past few days. Tera Denney choked up while expressing her appreciation. “We didn’t bring much food, clothing or anything like that. It is just a big thank you. My mom and I both started crying the other day because we couldn’t pay for anything. We didn’t have enough money. My nanny had to give us $200 today to pay for the next few days of the hotel room.”
Everyday survival may still be a struggle for evacuees for some time, even after they can return home. “We just had gone shopping and our freezer had a bunch of food in it,” said Denney. “It’s all gonna be ruined when we get back.”