Monday morning, we checked the status of Florence and it appeared like it would make landfall Thursday or Friday somewhere in North Carolina as a Category 3 or 4 storm so that could be devastating. We looked fairly safe, but it wouldn’t take much of a course change to come closer to us here in Jacksonville. We left our apartment at 8:30 am and opened up the USO. Pam went into the kitchen and did some prep work and I managed the office. We got a lot of phone calls with requests for Jaguar vs Patriot tickets and had to tell them they were all gone. Also, Titan ticket sales began today at noon. Charley Tramazzo arrived at 9:30 am and he opened up the safe and then Cheryl Vandiver arrived shortly thereafter, and she got the Titan tickets ready for the Noon crowd. I spent most of the morning setting up the main rooms for the “No Dough” dinner tonight. Another volunteer and I brought in tables and chairs and set up the Salad and Dessert bars. Also brought in the” Sneeze” screens for those two stations, put out the utensil and napkins dispensers and stocked up on water and soda for the drink station. Other volunteers arrived and helped in the kitchen primarily cutting up vegetables for the Salad Bar. At noon we had about 20 patrons waiting for Titan tickets and by then Dave Ostrum had arrived and between he and Cheryl they sold the tickets, and everything went smoothly. At 12:30 pm Pam and I left for lunch and drove to the Naval Station and had lunch at the Exchange. We noticed the HMS Queen Elizabeth was tied up at the “Carrier Pier” and it was a beautiful looking small carrier. We drove to the LaGae home and visited with Samantha concerning the threat of Hurricane Florence and her preparations. She was very concerned about what to do and we gave her our thoughts about precautions and things she could do immediately. Finally, we returned to the USO and continued preparations for dinner. At 5:00 pm tickets were issued, and food began to be served. Pam and I worked the Dessert Table, but due to a lack of volunteers Pam moved to the Salad Bar and I handled the Dessert Table. We had a steady stream of patrons for the next two hours and they served about 275. Both the Head’s and the LaGae’s came for dinner and it was nice to see both families. Cleanup began at 7:00 pm and Pam and I stayed for another hour and then returned to our apartment. It had been a long day and we were tired.
Tuesday morning was the 17th anniversary of the Attack on America against the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. There were memorials services being held in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, the Cortlandt Street subway station, which was located directly below the World Trade Center, was re-opened for the first time and a Flight 93 Wind Chime memorial was Dedicated in Shanksville. We left for the Beach Church Food Pantry at 10:00 and received a van full of food for distribution at the USO. Two volunteers helped unload and Cheryl Vandiver took pictures and advertised on Facebook. We had a large turnout of military wives from the area and by noon most of the food was gone. Cheryl wondered if we could get more, so I drove back to the food pantry and they were happy to give us more food and we repeated the process. We sold more NFL tickets and at 1:30 pm Pam and I left for the day. We drove to Costco with a stop for lunch. At Costco we primarily bought more water and some food items and then returned to our apartment. We fixed two large pans of Ziti (from last nights No Dough dinner) and took them to Tara Alexander and also the LaGae’s on the Naval Station. They seemed happy to receive the food. Samantha LaGae had also come to the USO and picked up food for her and Tara.
Wednesday morning, I noticed the Mission office was using the Mission Blog to communicate with missionary families and issued a new statement each day assuring missionaries were safe and prepared. We left our apartment for Jacksonville Beach at 9:30 am and I dropped Pam off at the LaGae home where Pam babysat for Samantha while she did homework. I continued to the USO and Dave Ostrum was holding down the fort and there was a large training group in one of the main hall rooms. I did a few odd jobs until Joyce Schellhorn (Director) arrived at 11:00 am. It was her first day back from vacation to Ireland and Scotland with her husband. She was in pretty good spirits and we visited about her trip and then got busy doing a few odd jobs in preparation for a World-Wide USO Video Streaming activity that night on the Naval Station. Dave was representing the USO and we gathered items to distribute. I also put together items for a Navy Exchange activity that Pam and I would host next Friday. I got a call from Pam at 12:30 pm and she was ready to be picked up. Joyce also asked if I could make a deposit for her, so I picked up Pam and we made the deposit, had lunch and returned to the USO and visited with Joyce and looked over the schedule for the next few days and then left at 2:00 pm. We returned to the Naval Station Medical Clinic and picked up a prescription. We did a little shopping at Big Lots and the Wal-Mart Market before returning to our apartment. I made several phone calls, one to President Heywood and he confirmed he was setting Lyle Young apart as Lay Leader on the USS Iwo Jima that evening as Kyle was reporting aboard for a potential departure of the ship in the morning. I also called Blake Harris and he confirmed they were on alert status.
Thursday morning Hurricane Florence continued on a course towards the Carolina's, but had been downgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane, but was moving so slowly and the impact of storm surge and rain would be immense. Over 5 million people were under hurricane warnings just waiting. We opened the USO and had a moderate amount of bread and pastries put out and Pam and I got them tabulated and made available for patrons by 9:30 pm. Pam spent most of her morning in the kitchen cleaning out cupboards and I manned the office taking phone calls and checking in patrons. Dave Ostrum arrived about 10:30 am and he sold Jaguar tickets. Joyce Schellhorn (Director) went to a special meeting on the Naval Air Station and got back to Mayport at 2:00 pm. We discussed what was going on and the schedule for next week and then Pam and I left for the day. We drove back towards our apartment area and stopped for lunch and a little shopping before returning to our apartment. We made phone calls tonight and tried to arrange for some home visits.
Friday morning, I got up early and checked on the Weather Channel for hurricane updates and the eye of the storm was trying to come ashore at Wilmington, North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. Wind was down, but the rain and storm surge were massive and would continue for days as the storm was just crawling along. We were doing apartment inspections this morning and left at 7:40 am and drove across the Dames Point Bridge to the Dunn Avenue District and first visited with Sister Newman & Vai and had a nice visit with them. Sister Vai is Tongan from Salt Lake. Next, we visited Elder Aiken & Vai Tualamalii. Elder Tualamalii is Samoan from Colorado Springs. Back across the St. Johns river we stopped at Sister Byington & Abril apartment and they were both new to the zone and it was nice to meet them. Sister Abril was from Corona, California and Sister Byington from Orangeville, Utah. We saw Elder Willets & Brooksby next and had a good visit with them and finished our visits with Sister Gillins & Johnson. The other two companionships were away on a service project in the Dunn Ave Ward area. We returned to our apartment and compiled a report to send to Elder Mann tomorrow. We also did laundry this morning and vacuumed the apartment and cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. Later in the day we had some lunch and did some shopping and then returned and took care of our laundry and made phone calls about the weekend.
Saturday morning, we learned that some areas in the Carolina's had received 30 to 40 inches of rain along the coastline and over 22,000 people were being housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University’s basketball gym. The rainfall produced catastrophic flash flooding along the numerous rivers. The storm was expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolina's and the Ohio Valley by Monday. Missionaries were all safe in the Carolina Missions but the cleanup work pending would be enormous. We hadn’t heard whether missionaries from Florida would be called out to help. Pam and I finished missionary apartment inspections this morning at 8:45 am. We first visited Elder Hibbert & C. Smart and their apartment was very neat and clean. It was obvious they had prepared for our visit. We also drove to Jacksonville Beach to see Sister Knudsen & Davis. We had a nice visit and looked through their apartment which was also neat and clean. We returned to our apartment and updated the apartment inspection form and emailed it to Elder Mann. We also worked on our area book for the rest of the morning. After lunch we made a few stops and then returned to our apartment and did some texting about meetings tomorrow with our families. Alexis Connelly was down again with a migraine and we wish there was something we could do to help. I texted Sarah (Cottle) and congratulated her on her marathon run in Utah. She participated in the Huntsville Marathon and finished in 3:26 and was 57th out of 440, which was pretty amazing.
Sunday morning Florence was still in the North Carolina dumping huge amounts of rain throughout the state as it slowly moved north. We left for church at the Jacksonville Beach Ward at 9:30 am and met the saints and sat with Tyler Gneck. Sacrament meeting was excellent, and we attended the Gospel Principles class and the Sisters had two investigators attending. In Priesthood meeting they discussed relief efforts for the Carolina's. It appeared each ward in the stake would be assigned a weekend to go north, but it wasn’t clear for how long or when. They were awaiting instructions from up north. Later in the day I heard from Lynn and Maureen in Murphy, North Carolina and they were doing fine.
Sorry no pictures this week!
Sorry no pictures this week!