TRIP 2004

Update #07 - September 14th
Rockledge, Florida - 9,335 miles (14,936 KM)

The rest of the ride across the Southern portion of Florida to Stuart went okay. I rode along U.S. 27 to Belle Glade and then I headed in a more Northerly direction to Indiantown. Along the way, I stopped at the Red Cross Disaster Center in Pahokee but they didn't need any help. I spent the night in the fellowship hall of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Indiantown. I was really made welcome and they provided me with a cot to sleep on and free-range of the food in the kitchen. I also helped members of the church hand out disaster relief supplies. This was mostly a Hispanic Church.

From Indiantown, it was about a 3 hour ride to Stuart. I stopped at the Red Cross disaster center across the street from the chapter offices to see if they needed any help. They had everything covered. I was told about the disaster center in Ft. Pierce. They were asking for help there.

It was about 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon when I got to the disaster center in Ft. Pierce. It took a little longer than what I expected for the ride between Stuart and Ft. Pierce because in some places along Martin County 707 the pavement was buckled or washed out from the wave surge from Hurricane Frances. There was about two miles of roadway that had been destroyed but I was able to get through it. In one bad section, there was a wrecked car that had flipped over on it's top down in a huge ditch where the ocean tides had undermined the roadway.

The people at the disaster center were sort ot closed to me. They were not that friendly. There were about a dozen Red Cross Drivers with their E.R.V.'s and about a dozen support staff. Most of the support staff were AmeriCorp volunteers (paid volunteers). These guys were in their twenties. When I told the support group supervisor that I might need housing, he kind of balked but the assistant supervisor suggested that I might be able to spend the night in one the E.R.V.'s. They needed sort of a night watchman since they didn't have locks on all of the food trucks. I was sort of comfortable since the ERV had lights and air conditioning. I was assured that better housing would be found for Sunday night and any extra nights I would be at the disaster center.

I got maybe five hours of sleep using my sleep mask. I had hoped to be able to get to the early morning service at the Methodist Church about 5 blocks away but after the staff meeting I was put on a crew who was going out to hand out 2 liter bottles of water. It took about an hour getting the back of the cargo van loaded up. I didn't go out with the crew since I was pulled out of the truck for another assignment. This pulling around happened a couple more times.

Everybody was really tired and their feelings and tempers were stretched. They were pretty well close to flash-point since none of them had time off for almost three weeks. Two lady drivers got into a verbal spat. Being that I was a minister, I got some of the anger taken out at me. The support team had been ordered to leave a church since they made a bad scene there. A new spot had been found but it wasn't the best. Space was found in back of an old navy hospital that had been turned into un-assisted low-income housing for the elderly. Parking space was limited.

Going back to the anger problem, I was assigned to a Red Cross driver to go out with him to distribute MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) to the people in the Southern section of Ft. Pierce. We had to get the 30 pound boxes (with 10 meals in them) from a semi truck trailer. One of the AmeriCorp guys was assigned to help load us. He tossed the boxes down to us without caring how fast he did or how hard he did. I got hit in the chest with one of the boxes. When I made a comment for him to slow down and do it more carefully, he cussed at me and told me that all preachers were just wimps. Another guy stepped in for me and the first guy tossed them down over his head without caring if the other guy was going to be hit. The other guy passed them on to me.

The ride on the ERV went okay. I was in back handing out the meals and water. We were out about 3 hours and we gave away almost 300 meals. When I got back to the center, I was shocked to see that the rear tire of my bike was flat. It looked like somebody had taken the blade of a small knife and punctured it. I couldn't tell anybody about it. I had waited all day to see if they found another place for me to sleep. It was almost a half hour before they left at 6:30 p.m. when I was told that they couldn't find any other place but another ERV. This ERV was broken and the inside lights and the air conditioning didn't work. The temperature inside the truck was almost 100 degrees. They told me that I had to take it or leave.

I fixed the bike as fast as I could and left about a half hour before dusk. I needed to find a place off the road since there was a county wide curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. I made about eight miles down FLA A1A before I had to turn into a closed state park to camp out. I had a bit of a time getting the tent up because of the wind. I had a pretty good night. Yesterday, I rode up to Merritt Island. I found some people at the First Baptist Church. They offered me a room for the night at their house in Rockledge.

I'll be riding up U.S. 1 through Titusville to Daytona Beach. From there, I'll be heading to the Green Cove Springs area to visit with some friends. I'm looking at heading back to Americus, Georgia for a few days. Depending on how strong and where Hurricane Ivan hits along the Gulf Coast in the next couple of days I might ride from Americus to the disaster area to maybe help out again. I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change again.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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