Wearing his American Red Cross vest, Brandon Terry cheerfully greets those arriving at the shelter for those displaced by the flash flooding.
Unless asked, he doesn’t mention that he’s also staying at the shelter because he has nowhere else to go. But when asked, Brandon explains how the family home quickly filled with water.
With water up to the porch, he figured that would be it. He headed to the fire department to see if there were others he could help. But things back home suddenly got worse.
“I thought it would get to the top of the porch stairs and stop. But it just kept coming and the water got up to the roof,” he said.
Within days, Brandon found he wasn’t alone. His parents, uncle, aunt, cousin and assorted relatives all found refuge at the shelter. By his count, there were 15 relatives at the shelter and seven dogs in a kennel set up behind the shelter by local residents.
Brandon helps those arriving to find a place to sleep and make sure they have something to eat and that their medical needs are looked after at one of the 13 Red Cross shelters that were opened after the flooding.
“Helping people is my thing. It keeps me busy and your stress stays down that way when you’re thinking about something other than yourself,” he said.
Lee Terry, who is Brandon’s father, sits on a cot talking about how he and four other people and six dogs were trapped in his vehicle with water coming up the window before they could get out.
“It just swallowed the vehicle up and the next thing you knew, we were all swimming for it,” he recalled. “But it felt good to know that everybody was safe, it really did.”
On the cot next to him were Andy Terry – Lee’s brother – and Andy’s son, Jody, trying on a new pair of shoes to replace the ones lost in the flood. Andy also didn’t think the water would overtake his home, but when he realized they were in trouble, he and the rest of the family waded out with their dogs to safety.
Once his family was safe, Andy turned back to help his neighbors who still were trying to escape the water.
“I might have gotten hurt, but at least I was doing something to help people,” Andy said.
As for the shelter, Andy said he wished he was back home but he’s not complaining.
“I’m glad I’ve got a place to sleep. When you got nothing then you’re glad you got a roof over your head and something to eat and that the kids are safe,” he said.
One other thing both Andy and Lee are happy about is being near their dogs.
On a recent afternoon, Andy and Lee stepped out back to the kennel to see their tail-wagging dogs. Andy took a chew rope and played with Lucien while Lee knelt down to nuzzle one of his dogs.
And for those few minutes, they were together back when playing with the dogs was the norm and thoughts of devastation far removed.