>The Ghosts of Labor Days Past and the Lurking Shadows of Gustav, Hanna and Ike

>Now that my blog is over a year old, I find myself looking at posts that marked memorable dates, like this one, from just over one year ago. It’s because Labor Day weekend will always bring memories of Katrina. But also for me, memories of taking my mother and daughter to Biloxi to visit my son, Jason, when he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. We were on the beach 48 hours before Katrina hit.

My husband and I drove along the Mississippi Gulf Coast enroute from New Orleans to Gulf Shores, Alabama this past May, which was the first time we’d seen the “recovery” that’s taken place during the past three years. I blogged about that trip here.

But today we are safely on higher ground, with our oldest son, Jon, recently home from his second tour of duty in Iraq and celebrating his 31st birthday with us here in Memphis.

Of course we’ve been glued to the Weather Channel all weekend, and have contacted friends in New Orleans to see if they need a place to stay.

I almost felt guilty as I enjoyed this delicious watermelon which was cut off the vine at my friends’ Rick and Christy’s garden out in Grand Junction, Tennessee, just yesterday afternoon. Almost. (Yum! Soooo sweet! Thanks, Rick and Christy!) I wish I had a truck load to take to the evacuees at each of the shelters.

This afternoon, after receiving an email with information about shelters around Memphis, I took a few things to a shelter near my home here in midtown Memphis, where over 200 Gustav evacuees are staying. There are lots of shelters operating in Memphis, so if you’re in Memphis and reading this and want to help, you can contact Jeana Bailley, Director of Volunteer Services at 901/726-1690, ext. 1152 or via email at bailleyj@midsouthredcross.org.

If you’re in midtown, you can easily drop things off at Catholic High School Gymnasium, 61 N. McLean. Just drive up out front and they’ll help you carry stuff in. They need the following items at that location:

Toiletries – all kinds (think what you might need if you took a 4 or 5 day trip)
“Good Nights” diapers for older toddlers
Children’s clothings
Broom for cleaning
Snacks and fruit of any kind
Coloring Books and crayons
PILLOWS, BLANKETS, SLEEPING BAGS – they have almost none for sleeping on cots
VHS player or DVD player, as well as tapes and DVD’s

The following shelters are also open at this time – you could go by a shelter in your neighborhood and see what their needs are:

G.W. Henderson Sr. Recreation Center, 1165 Abbay St., Tunica, MS,

Cummings Street Baptist Church, 794 E. Raines Road, Memphis, TN

Bishop Byrne High School, 1475 E. Shelby Drive

Catholic High School, 61 N. McLean near my house….

Goodman Oaks Baptist Church, 1700 Goodman Road – This shelter is open and can accomodate 125 people.

Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 N. Watkins – staffed by Methodist Hospital for those requiring medical assistance

Gaisman Community Center, 4223 Macon

Hollywood Community Center, 1560 Hollywood

Glenview Community Center, 1141 S. Barksdale

Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland

Marion-Hale Community Center, 4791 Willow

Davis Community Center, 3371 Spottswood

Hickory Hill Community Center, 3910 Ridgeway

Dundee Community Center, 9140 Dundee, Dundee, Ms.

So, against the backdrop of the hurricane drama, we still celebrated our eldest son’s birthday. Since he likes to cook and I don’t, I served as his “help” and learned how to marinate tenderloin filets, grill squash, make a white sauce for mashed potatoes with fresh rosemary garnish, and other culinary delights.
Here’s the cook and helper….

And some of the items he bought at Schnucks since my pantry is pretty bare of cooking aids!

The political chatter on the patio was lively, with friends from both sides of the aisle coming together to celebrate with us.

And the food was amazing, thanks mostly to Jon.

Some folks came bearing gifts…

Like this beautiful coffee table book about Da Vinci, from Will and Elizabeth. (Elizabeth works at Brooks Museum of Art and Will is going back to school at Memphis College of Art this semester!)

Others brought children… and of course the children were precious… little Paul crawled around the floor of the dining room during dinner, eventually finding “Dobbins,” my husband’s father’s childhood wooden horse.

While his mother joined the “Big Chill” atmosphere in the kitchen as Jon cooked…

The “big kids” watched a movie upstairs during dinner (we never even heard from them!) and later joined us in the den to play with Oreo …

And give snuggles.

So, I hope all you folks who didn’t have to leave your homes on the Gulf Coast are having a great weekend, and that our neighbors from the coast who find themselves displaced again will find the hospitality in Memphis and other venues welcoming. And that the police find the person who hijacked an evacuee’s car when she stopped to ask directions to a shelter! Lord have mercy….

Jon is on his way back to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he will be called on to participate in emergency relief efforts on the coast once Gustav, Hannah and Ike have had their way. He’s enrolled in a Warrant Officers Leadership Training Program for a few weeks prior to his move to Savannah in mid October. Maybe hurricane season will be over by then.

As I finish this post on Labor Day evening, we’re watching the local news and now there are over 32,000 evacuees in shelters and hotels in Memphis. And the abridged version of the Republican National Convention is showcasing videos of the governors of several Southern states who wish they could be at the Convention, but are needed at home to help take care of storm-ridden towns, cities and people. It’s all very sobering, and I’m so thankful that my family is safe tonight.

Please share!