Contributed By Mark Bishop, Written By Kiera Ford
When Red Cross public affairs volunteer, Mark Bishop, entered the Montagne Center shelter at Lamar University, he never imagined he would be the one uplifted and inspired. “I want to be like Cliff should I ever find myself in that situation,” says Bishop as he recalls his inspiring interaction with Orange, Texas flood victim Clifford Locks.
On March 19, 2016 Mark Bishop entered the Red Cross operated shelter at Lamar Montagne Center, located at 4400 S. M L King Jr. Parkway, just off of Lamar University’s campus. While taking a break from photographing Red Cross volunteers and their service to flood victims, Mark found himself in what would be a memorable and encouraging conversation with displaced flood victim, Clifford Locks.
Cliff’s home in Orange, Texas is one of many that were evacuated this past week due to the flooding of the Sabine River. As Cliff and Mark were talking and walking throughout the shelter, Cliff was able to introduce Mark to a number of other flood victims, many of which were his neighbors and friends. “I felt like [Cliff] really knew many of the shelter residents, since his entire neighborhood had to evacuate and he’s lived in his home for over 50 years,” says Bishop. Cliff moved into his Knox Street home at the age of 8 and has lived there ever since. Now at the age of 59, Cliff wonders about the damage to his home and what the future will hold.
Unable to return to his home, Cliff doesn’t yet know how much, if any, water is in his home or if it is still in a livable condition. When floodwaters started rising and his safety became in jeopardy, Cliff got in his truck and drove to the local Wal-Mart where he slept in his car in the parking lot for one or two days. Afterward he called and told his family, “I’m going on vacation.” Cliff registered at the Red Cross shelter at Montagne Center, where he has since been raising the spirits of flood victims and volunteers alike.
Even with the sadness and depression of this disaster hanging over him, Cliff was more than happy to share his story, and a number of other stories, with Mark. Mark and Cliff talked for over a half hour, sharing laughs and gaining a better understanding of life and things to come. “I left Cliff with a feeling that I had been propped up and taken care of rather than that of Cliff, he being a victim,” says Bishop.
Cliff is among the 160+ flood victims staying at Montagne Center after being evacuated from their homes in Orange, Beaumont, and the surrounding areas. With floodwaters currently receding, Cliff and other victims are eager to get back to their homes to assess damage and begin the recovery process, however it is not known when that might happen. Until then Cliff continues to brighten the day of his neighbors, friends, family and strangers while he enjoys his vacation.
To help people affected by disasters big and small like floods in Texas, please go to redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give a $10 donation.
Cliff is sharing a hug and light moment with Red Cross Shelter manager, Marie Kellingsworth of South Texas Chapter.