After their weekday home-away-from home was designated a Red Cross Shelter for flood victims, regular patrons of the Tri-County Senior Center took it all in stride.
The regular senior center volunteers have to be among the hardest working flood recovery teams in the May 1-4 flood, according to Jeannie Guffey, administrator.
“They prepared three meals a day for flood victims, volunteers and first responders who were invited to eat at the Red Cross Disaster Shelter,” Guffey said. “And the regular senior center patrons continued to eat their noonday Monday through Friday meals there during the rush.”
The only loss of senior center services was the cancellation of bingo and one Tuesday night jam session, but those returned May 9-10 as emergency needs waned.
The rising water May 1-2 prompted a sandbagging operation spearheaded by Aldermen Mike Pigg and Steve Myers that drew between 150 and 175 volunteers a day.
Senior center volunteers carried sandwiches, water, coffee and hot chocolate to the station and invited volunteers to come to the center for a real meal.
When the National Guard arrived to park their Humvees at roads leading into floodwater, volunteers carried refreshments to them.
As a steady stream of flood victims, volunteers and first responders arrived at the shelter morning, noon and evening for the promised meal, a group of regular volunteers picked up the pace, increased their hours and beefed up the recipes.
Volunteers sorted donated items delivered to the shelter and made numerous runs to pick up supplies.
A group of five volunteers — Sheri Delmain, Carol Johnson, Wanda Tucker, David Fox and Carol Roberts — arrived at the center at 5:30 a.m. to start breakfast.
“Some of them were still here through supper at 7 p.m.,” Guffey said.
They made sandwiches, soups and pasta, gallons of coffee and lemonade, cut fruit salad and served it to the throng of visitors, feeding approximately 7,000 meals in days.
Because they prepare meals daily for seniors, the only difference was the number of diners at one time.
“It was a bit of a shock when someone said 100 National Guard troops will be here for lunch in an hour,” Delmain said. “But we pulled it off. They all ate together.”
Through it all, regular senior center patrons ate their noonday meals with visitors.
One flood victim, who was at the shelter because her apartment flooded, did double duty. Tracy Hill turned senior center volunteer, rearranging storage areas and helped with cleanup after supper.
“She did a little bit of everything,” Guffey said.
During the 2015 flood, senior center volunteers made and served 10,000 meals in a 10-day period.
The Red Cross Disaster Shelter was phased out May 10, but the senior center will continue to prepare a continental breakfast and lunch for victims, work crews and first responders for the next two weeks.
“After that we’ll be transitioning back to normal,” Guffey said.