Kristal Armendariz brings us part two in her own words.
Loaded down with supplies, we left Las Cruces , headed north to Albuquerque and took a hard right on I-40. The sense of community and support that we first saw in our home town only grew as we traveled through the country. Passing cars honked and waved their support. People signed the trailer and stopped to talk to us at gas stations, eager to be part of something bigger than themselves. We hit Amarillo, Texas just after midnight, pulling into a KOA campground to rest for a few hours. Almost immediately, our heavy trailer sank in the mud and we were stuck. This was our first run in with the aftermath of storms. The night before a tornado and thunderstorm had swept through the area and the ground was soaked. A local towing service came out and pulled us to safety. After seeing the signs on our trailer the driver refused payment, instead sending his own well wishes along to the people of Moore.
We arrived in Oklahoma the next morning. After dropping our daughter off at her softball camp, we took a drive through Moore to get a first-hand look at the damage. To say it was devastating is an understatement. We stopped at an intersection in Moore. On one corner, a CVS Pharmacy stood untouched. Across the street, a Walgreen’s was boarded up – the pharmacy operating out of a portable with an emergency medical clinic and donation station set up under a tent in the parking lot. Just behind it, there were acres and acres of land that had once been a subdivision.
Nothing was left but a few of the larger trees, limbs stripped of leaves and branches. The homes that once lined these streets were gone, vehicles buried under debris, overturned or wrapped around trees. And in the midst of this turmoil was evidence of humanity: cases of water left on street corners, children’s toys arranged in the driveways of homes that no longer existed, flags waving proudly amid the rubble and spray painted messages of hope.
The next morning we headed to the Center for Children and Families, Inc. They had just taken possession of a church that they plan on remodeling into a new and improved facility. Inside, stacks of diapers filled the front of the room and cans of formula lined the first few pews. The staff was very gracious and welcomed us with open arms.
Mike Armendariz, Las Cruces Division Manager, took control of the trailer and we set up a human chain to bring in supplies. Including the team and parents we had over 35 volunteers working together to unload and we needed every single one of them!
They didn’t have any water stockpiled, so it was especially gratifying to see the cases of water and sports drinks grow. I didn’t realize we had collected as much as we had!
This entire experience has reaffirmed my faith in the inherent goodness of people and the resiliency of the human spirit. It has also taught me to be grateful for each day I have with those I love. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so make today matter.