By Tonya Garner: Freedom Newspapers
Mother and daughter, Linda and Amanda Thrower, spent their holiday weekend cooking.
They weren’t grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for family though, the duo spent 16 hours a day preparing and serving hot meals for approximately 500 Hurricane Katrina victims who began trickling into Lubbock on Saturday.
The mother/daughter Salvation Army volunteers drove 90 miles to Lubbock to assist with those evacuees.
Linda Thrower described the situation at Reese Air Force Base as “well-organized.” She said each evacuee was first given an identification card, then directed to medical personnel. According to Thrower, a pharmacist was available with some of the most commonly used prescriptions. The evacuees were given clean clothes, water and hot meals.
Preparing and serving the hot meals is where Linda Thrower, nursing instructor at Clovis Community College, volunteered on Sunday.
“I had only planned to stay for a little while,” Thrower said, “but they had so much need.”
Thrower worked a 16-hour day before heading to a local hotel for some much-needed rest. “I was back up early Monday morning to serve breakfast,” she said.
Thrower, a former military medical technician, said she spent most of her time unloading groceries, preparing food and creating take-out boxes.
She said her medical training was definitely not wasted even though she was in the food service division.
“So many of these people had special diet requirements,” Thrower said. “They needed low sodium or extra potassium. We had figs. They are high in potassium, so that really helped.”
Nursing students from Texas Tech were among some of the volunteers, according to Thrower. “I was glad to see them there,” Thrower said. “I told them they were definitely going to get to put their skills to use.”
Volunteer doctors and nurses from Lubbock health facilities were also on hand to address medical problems.
“So many of these people arrived dehydrated,” Thrower said. “They transported them to local hospitals for intravenous fluids.”
The Salvation Army is utilizing the old military dining hall at the former Reese Air Force Base as its hub. Thrower said the kitchen hadn’t been used in three years.
Thrower said she found her volunteer experience to be “emotionally and physically” taxing.
“I cried all the way home,” she said.
Thrower said most of the evacuees were in good spirits despite their hardships.
Thrower’s daughter, Amanda, a religion major at Eastern New Mexico University, looked at her experience with the evacuees from a different perspective.
“I am very active in the Salvation Army,” Amanda Thrower said. “I saw this as a great opportunity to help.”
The younger Thrower said she had the opportunity to talk with many of the hurricane survivors she was feeding.
“It was so emotional,” she said. “These people have nothing left except the clothes on their backs.”
One man’s story really tugged at her heart strings, she said. He told her of witnessing his four children being swept under the rising water. None of his children survived the ordeal.
Amanda Thrower said hearing the heart-wrenching stories was difficult, but her previous volunteer training through the Salvation Army taught her to maintain her composure.
“I prepared myself mentally and spiritually,” she said.
It is unknown how long the Hurricane Katrina victims will call Reese Air Force Base their home.