Greensboro residents load truck with relief supplies
The High Point Hospital critical care nurse taped cardboard boxes together, advised neighborhood residents where they might put packages of baby wipes and blankets and lamented that she hadn’t thought to make lemonade as her 14-year-old son packed hurricane relief supplies into the box truck parked in the grass at Lake Daniel Park in Greensboro on Sept. 5.
For Marianne Veto, a resident of Greensboro’s Westerwood section, there was a simple, completely un-mystical reason she decided to spend her Labor Day, a full week after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, collecting relief supplies.
‘“I just felt like something needed to be done,’” she said.
So she and her two children, Meredith, 19, and Jack, 14, got together with some neighbors and started collecting supplies. A friend, Buster Lewis, who owns a storage company, loaned a box truck and agreed to keep the supplies for a week, until the Salvation Army could accept them.
Veto’s initiative was one of dozens around Greensboro ‘— most of which have been headed up by churches and businesses ‘— to respond to the hurricane. The items in demand were the most practical imaginable, signifiers of the ongoing trauma in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama: toiletries, diapers, baby formula, antibacterial hand soap, bug spray, batteries and first aid supplies.
By 4:30, Veto estimated they had packed and loaded about 400 boxes. About a third of the truck was full.
Neighborhood residents who dropped off their donations expressed satisfaction about having an opportunity to help. But none was more grateful than Carol Phillips, whose house in the Gentilly section of New Orleans was inundated while she and her husband were in Greensboro helping their daughter, Alison, settle into a new semester at UNCG.
‘“We’re glad to be able to help, because this will help ‘— who knows ‘— friends of mine,’” said Phillips, who is employed as an occupational therapist at Ochsner Hospital in nearby Jefferson Parish.
Friends invited Phillips and her husband to housesit for them in Greensboro when it became clear they couldn’t return home. They feel lucky, she said, especially compared to relatives who narrowly escaped the flood.
Her mother was safely evacuated, and is now staying with another daughter in Mobile, Ala., Phillips said. Her brother-in-law had to be saved from his rooftop after water began seeping through the walls. He spent three days at the New Orleans convention center before being flown to Arkansas, and is now considering permanently relocating to Florida.
She and her husband have no idea what kind of shape their house is in.
‘“We won’t know until we get back,’” she said. ‘“But we’ll be okay. We’ll move on. We just don’t know how our friends are.’”
They plan to return to New Orleans on Friday, so she can begin a five-day shift at the hospital. Much remains uncertain.
‘“We thought we’d pack up our van with food and water,’” she said. ‘“We don’t know where we’ll be staying. The hospital is trying to find housing for us when we’re not working.’”
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