My name is Diane Kienholz. My husband, Steve, and I are service missionaries. By assignment we drove a bishops’ storehouse truck to help those affected by Hurricane Michael.
My husband worked for a trucking company before he retired, so we were assigned to drive one of two trucks filled with emergency supplies. It was a wonderful sight to see the trucks loaded with ladders, tarps, wheelbarrows, chainsaws, and other tools and materials to repair damaged roofs. We were headed to four emergency command centers in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia being run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Our contact on the ground told us it was the worst disaster he had seen in his 20 years on the job. Everywhere you looked, it appeared as if a bomb had gone off.
When our trucks weren’t being used to move supplies for the command centers, they were used to help the community move donated items to locations where they were needed. At one point we helped the Bay County sheriffs move donated items to the hardest-hit areas. It was exciting to drive the truck with a police escort.
Seeing all the people who were displaced with no homes to go back to was heartbreaking. These people were so excited to see volunteers in the yellow Helping Hands shirts rushing to the rescue.
We worked closely with the American Red Cross, the National Guard, and other organizations during the cleanup. This often included moving the belongings of those who lost their homes in the hurricane. We moved everything imaginable in the back of the truck, including bikes, bins, clothes, keepsakes—even a bassinet for a baby.
We slept in sleeping bags, took cold showers, and ate canned food during the time we spent helping deliver emergency supplies. But both my husband and I would do it all again to help serve in the emergency response cleanup efforts.
I love all those wonderful first responders and volunteers out climbing the ladders, tarping the roofs, and cutting the trees. We just drove the truck, but it was an honor and a blessing to be among them, making a difference.