By Marianna Moles, American Red Cross
Mother and daughter Wilma Adcock and Debbie Proctor drove all the way from Illinois to bring a mobile shower and laundry service to more than 100 American Red Cross disaster responders in Beaumont, Texas.
During their two-week deployments, Red Cross disaster workers are often housed in staff shelters, much like the ones that accommodate disaster victims. These hard workers may not have access to hot showers – or showers at all – depending on the circumstances, which was the case for a while at the Beaumont Civic Center due to contaminated water.
Weeks after Hurricane Harvey left Texas damp and dirty, the arrival of a Southern Baptist Convention mobile shower unit, with two hospitable drivers, was a cause for celebration. The laundry service was a welcome bonus.
“This is the first time this trailer has been at a disaster, and it’s also the first time we’ve personally operated one of these,” said Debbie. Mother and daughter have taken many trips together, but this is their first outing in conjunction with the Red Cross.
The mobile service is made possible through a long-standing partnership between the Red Cross and Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief of Illinois. This particular trailer came from the Macoupin Baptist Association chapter in Illinois, where Wilma and Debbie are members.
“We guesstimate over…six days that we’ve done 30 to 35 loads of laundry per day, and provided over 300 showers, or about 75 per day,” said Wilma.
Before the “clean ladies” arrived, volunteers were taking cold showers and had no place to do laundry onsite. Now there are six shower compartments available, each with hot and cold water, plus a sink, towel hooks, no-slip floor matt and a bench for clothes and other necessities.
There are also shower flip-flops for those who need them, and other amenities such as hair dryers.
Wilma and Debbie strive to offer service with a smile. “(They) have created a cheerful and comforting environment,” said one grateful Red Cross volunteer. Each shower unit gets a quick cleaning after each use; every bit of clean laundry gets folded. The trailer is open daily, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., to accommodate the long hours of Red Cross workers.
“I wouldn’t want to shower with someone else’s hair everywhere, so we’re making sure the volunteers don’t have that either,” said Debbie. “They’re out there working hard, we want them to have this comfort.”
Volunteers have been thanking them for their hospitability, but Debbie says she and her mother are the ones who are thankful. “The Red Cross has been awesome. They’ve given us everything we need and more. We’re just happy to do this.”