Tree limbs Shontay Robinson clung to after being tossed into waters roaring through her Waynesville neighborhood and her will to live were sagging as a severe storm dumped huge amounts of rain on South-Central Missouri in the early-morning hours of August 7.
“I basically gave up life,” Robinson said Tuesday while waiting for the Multi-Agency Relief Center located in Waynesville’s Westside Baptist Church to open. “I couldn’t hold on and the tree limbs were breaking. So I let go. By the grace of God, I floated into another tree that had a little area where I could sit.”
Robinson, other family members and emergency personnel survived their ordeal which began when the boat rescuers used to pluck the family from a home in the Wagner Trailer Court stalled, floated down stream, hit a structure, capsized dumping them into the raging waters.
Everyone involved got out safely, in large part due to the efforts of her nephew, whom Robinson said saved her grandson and a rescue worker.
Robinson and nine family members, not all involved in the boating mishap, were taken out of the trailer court that morning, but her near-tragic experience didn’t keep her from looking out for her neighbors.
After her rescue and a trip by ambulance to a Rolla hospital where she was examined and released, Robinson and her family sought help at the American Red Cross shelter in the St. Robert Community Center. They didn’t stay long.
“We were told to meet there,” said Robinson, who is recovering from knee surgery. “We were all spread out once we got out of the water. After I got out of the hospital, I went there (the Red Cross shelter) to meet up with my family. We just told them (Red Cross volunteers) we were leaving and we might be back. There was supposed to be more people coming and they might need the beds. We had somewhere to lay our heads.”
Robinson and her family gave up spots in the shelter for others, but they still needed help and returned to the Red Cross facility the next day.
“They gave us clothes and food,” said Robinson. “Whatever we could get from them, they offered us their services.
“Everybody up there was just great. They made sure I had all my medications. All my medications got lost. My ID, social security card and all my medications, and I’m on a lot of medications, all went down the river in my purse.”
What she didn’t lose, and was strengthened by the ordeal, is her willingness to serve others.
“I’m a person who likes to help anyway. It costs nothing to give up a little of your time,” Robinson said. “Maybe that’s why He’s keeping me here.
“My niece told me that God has a plan for me. So I said I’m going to find this plan this time and make sure I’m on the right road. I’m going to try and spend every waking moment with my grandkids and I’ll be thinking of what I could have lost.”
Robinson received information about volunteering for the Red Cross when she was at the shelter, but because of her recent knee surgery she doesn’t feel she can do justice to the agency right now. She may join in the future, but she said she will volunteer in other organizations as her recovery allows.
“I’m glad you (the Red Cross) were there to help,” she said. “Whoever is trying to help me or somebody else, I show them all respect. That’s why I want to be a volunteer. You all put in a lot of time and help a lot of people. And there are a lot of people out there who need a lot of help.”