It may sound more like a terrorist threat than a compliment, but it actually was a sincere thank-you from Terri Ward, executive director of The Children’s Center of Galveston.
“You da bomb!”, she said. “We are so grateful for everything Blanco County has done for us!”
The Children’s Center’s tale began as a hurried evacuation as Hurricane Ike shifted its target eastward along the coast, finally settling on Galveston. Children and staff loaded into buses with whatever they could grab and carry, then sprinted for the safety of the Hill Country.
Once here, they found themselves in a summer camp near Wimberley, which was just part of the adventure until they realized their building was so badly damaged they couldn’t go home. For some of the staff, there was no home to go to... their houses were damaged or destroyed, too.
They pretty quickly recognized needs, such as for soap and toothbrushes, for school clothes, for toys and games to keep kids amused. And televisions.
“It’s looking now like we may get to leave sooner,” Ward said, “but for a while we were looking at spending Christmas here. And that’s still not out of the question.”
First United Methodist Church in Johnson City made a quick delivery of toilet article kits from its emergency shelter supplies, clothes and a TV set. Then it put out the call for more.
“I had just cleaned out our closets of things my daughters left behind when they went to college,” said Kim Hodges of Johnson City. “I was about to give them to a resale shop, but this need was obviously immediate and severe.”
In Fredericksberg, Alicia Niemeier not only gathered up an armload of clothes, but also made a toy stop and bought games and sports equipment...and added another TV set.
From Kerrville, Kay Hightower brought a carload of clothing, and the Hill Country Chapter of the American Red Cross in Kerrville raided its shelter supplies for stuffed toys for the little ones.
In the end, it was more than the campers could digest immediately.
The Emergency Services Association in Johnson City was full of clothes for its semi-annual sale, and offered to let the campers and staff come for a special shopping trip.
“Oh, my goodness,” exclaimed Holly McManus, “it’s a wonderful offer, but we can’t take you up on it. We don’t have enough staff to divide the group to make the trip, and Blanco County’s incredible generosity has us pretty well satisfied for the moment.”
Emphasis on “for the moment”.
The staff may issue another call for help with specific items, or a broader call if they’re still there as summer turns to winter.
For the moment, though, it’s a big thank you to Blanco County for a disaster-response job well done.