Amid utter devastation from last week’s flood, there was a ray of hope as volunteers came together to help total strangers and fellow human beings.
Last Saturday, a relief team, organized by Rockdale Emergency Relief and the Rotary Club of Rockdale and Conyers, sent two groups out to Lake Capri, Rockdale’s hardest hit area. Ashley Roesler, executive director of Rockdale Emergency Relief, said, ”One of the greatest things about our county is the sense of community and purpose, and the way we take care of each other.”
Outfitted in rubber gloves and face masks, one group began clearing out the home of Charles Grimes, an 81-year-old Elvis impersonator whose place was completely submerged and destroyed by floodwaters. The volunteers spent hours removing and trashing virtually all of his furniture, clothing and personal effects that had been mired in toxic mud for the better part of a week.
The team’s next stop was the residence of Winona Hughey, an 86-year-old woman who had lived independently and drove herself to church and shopping. Her daughter and son-in-law had already removed everything from the home and asked the team to begin ripping out the dry wall. Daniel Digby, a Rotarian volunteer, gave his group an impromptu lesson in the fine art of demolition. Another neighbor loaned several wheelbarrows to help remove the ensuing wreckage.
At one poignant moment, the couple tried to express their gratitude amidst tears as the group departed. “It was eye-opening to come face-to-face with the devastation and humbling to help people who had lost everything and have them thank you,” exclaimed Nancy Bills, another Rotarian team member. “It was refreshing that the hardship of the flood and its’ damage seemed to bring the good out in people and bring people together to help each other.”
Even some who weren’t able to donate their day because of work and family commitments felt compelled to do something. Becky Berry, a home-schooling mother of three and Mellow Mushroom employee, drove up with cases of water, Gatorade and pizza for residents and workers. Sams Club also donated barbeque items to replenish everyone.
Gary Bridgewater, yet another Rotarian volunteer, described meeting Mrs. Betty Grimes during a brief lunch break. “As she and her family ate with us, they thanked us for our help,” he said. “Their spirits were better than I could have imagined, seeing all the material things they accumulated in a life together stuffed in two dumpsters, but I felt like they knew they had all they needed right there — family, friends and strangers who came to them in their time of need.”
To donate to flood victims, contact Rockdale Emergency Relief at 770-922-0165 or Rockdale United Way at 678-623-2890.