By Shavonne Potts
The meal was a good one and no one worried about calories as they filled their plates.
Investigators sifting through the rubble Tuesday at Salisbury Millwork took a few minutes for a lunch break. After that, it was back to work.
They’re continuing to work toward finding the cause of the Friday morning fire that claimed the lives of Salisbury firefighters, Victor Isler, 40, and Justin Monroe, 19.
But they have to eat, too.
The Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross arranged Tuesday’s lunch. The Wrenn House restaurant provided the food.
“We appreciate the support of the community. All the city agencies have been supportive,” said Peter O’Connor, an explosives expert and supervisor of the National Response Team for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
He said about 30 personnel with ATF, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Salisbury Fire Department, Rowan EMS and local law enforcement agencies were at the mill site.
In addition to Wrenn House, Tuesday’s meals came from Debbie Suggs and Honey Baked Ham, which prepared food for officials headquartered in the Park Avenue neighborhood, Salisbury’s Central Fire Station and the Miller’s Ferry Fire Department.
Red Cross staff members say the community has responded to the need. In fact, a call to the agency Tuesday evening found a recording by Director of Emergency Services Deborah Lineberger saying the agency has had “an overwhelming amount of calls” offering to help feed the firefighters and investigators.
“At this time, we have received more than enough donations of food to take us through the rest of the week. No more food donations will be necessary,” Lineberger said on the recorded message.
Salisbury resident Trish Young got that message when she called to offer food. Young said she was impressed by the outpouring and noted that Southern hospitality is alive and well in Salisbury.
“I’m so proud to live in a community that has responded so fast and generously to provide meals for our firemen and the visiting relief firemen and investigators,” she said.
Lineberger’s message reminded callers that the Bank of North Carolina is accepting monetary donations to help the families of Monroe and Isler.
Red Cross part-time staffer Dick Smith and other agency volunteers say they appreciate the community’s support and are careful to remind everyone that they rely on donations from the people of Rowan County.
“We get no funding through the government. It’s through donations,” Smith said.
Coordinating the food is just part of what Red Cross does in its disaster relief services.
“Ninety-two percent of everything Red Cross does is disaster relief. It’s the biggest thing we do,” volunteer Jacob Mayer said.
Six to eight volunteers were at each location providing meals Tuesday. Smith said the volunteers will stay at the mill site, headquarters and fire stations, “until they’re done.”
The Red Cross began its day at the sites around 8 a.m. Tuesday and expected to wrap up sometime after 7 p.m. Volunteers rotated throughout the day.
They set up the food beneath a white Red Cross canopy and served hot coffee from the back of the Emergency Response Vehicle provided by the Greater Carolina Chapter in Charlotte.
The vehicle comes completely stocked with supplies, volunteers said.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Shavonne Potts