Last Saturday I went for the first time to Granbury. After a 2-hour drive, I reached the town of about 6 thousand by a beautiful lake. I located the Rancho Brazos subdivision, the area hardest-hit by the deadly tornado, classified as an EF-4 of a maximum EF-5 on the Fujita Scale.16 tornadoes hit the North Texas area, and this one had winds of 166-200 mph.
I intended to enter the neighborhood to make a survey of the damage, talk to the residents, and see what help to give them, but as I drove up and showed my AMURT badge, the Hood County sheriff’s deputies said they were not allowing anyone in yet, except the residents and professional search-and-rescue personnel.
They directed me to go to 2 churches where I could register myself and my organization, obtain a permit and return another day when volunteers like myself would be permitted in.
I first found the Church of Christ and talked to the pastor there, who was very friendly and helpful, not showing any outward surprise at my strange orange uniform! He told me that he thought the relief efforts would “…go on for a long time,… months or even a year…” due to the heavy damage. I asked what he thought the victims need most, and he replied, ” Food, clothes, shelter, baby items, and of course, money to get their disrupted lives back to normal again.” Then he directed me to the First United Church where I could find the volunteers taking care of registration.
So I found that church and in the parking lot, saw tables set up and trailers where donated items were stored. Meeting the very friendly and welcoming volunteers of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), it was a joy to see their tired yet smiling and inspired faces. They took my details down, and Pam Scheuler, the in-charge there recounted to me some stories of that fateful Wednesday night when the tornado touched down, and all power and cell phone reception in that area was lost, and how many Granbury residents did their best to help the victims of the disaster. She was inspired that the ones most affected tried to help not just themselves, but selflessly aided their neighbors as well. Pam said that ” Texas and southern culture is like that.”
I explained about AMURT and our relief work around the world, and we took some photos together. It was getting dark so I said I would be back Monday and try to bring some volunteers with me to help in whatever way we can, and to make a better survey when we can go into the devastated area.
(By the way, an interesting thing happened on the way there and back from our office/Ja’grti/Meditation Center in Richardson — our 310K-mile trusty old Toyota started out with properly-inflated tires, but upon reaching home, the right rear tire was 50 per cent deflated,and some hours later,down to 90% deflated. I had heard a noise in that area of the car on the way there, and again on the return trip, but it seemed to be running fine and normal, so I thought it had run over something on the highway. Actually, it was running at high speed on crowded highways with a leaky tire, so it was a small “miracle” that nothing untoward happened. I sat down and recalled BA’BA’, our Guru (Spiritual Master)’s advice that human life is very precious and short, none of us knows what will happen next, so we should utilize this human frame to do good for others maximally, and sincerely and regularly do our spiritual practices.)
(In a few hours, I will return there.)
A’c. Advaya’nanda Avt.