Shelter, food provided at Community Center
When last week's ice storm hit, a response was immediately underway to offer Rector residents a safe, heated shelter in the form of the Rector Community Center. As conditions worsened Tuesday, Jan. 27, city officials began preparation for turning the center into an area offering relief.
The community center has been able to keep its doors open through the use of a generator. This allowed the site to be one of the few locations in Rector with electricity. As such, the area was able to welcome residents seeking refuge from the cold, assurance and even a hot meal.
In fact, once preparations began at the site, there was almost a snowball effect of progress as more people became involved.
At first, the center offered warmth from the cold winter weather. It soon became clear there was more to be done.
On Wednesday, Feb, 28, the community, along with Harps and the Rector School District, two of the most vital components in this small town, went the extra step in offering assistance. Both Harps and the school received permission from their respective organizations to donate perishable food supplies to the community center. Harps manager Shayne Roofe and RSD superintendent Rob Louder organized crews to transport numerous food items from their storage for use during the tumultuous event.
"We're just trying to feed the community," Shayne Roofe said. "We're trying to get everybody through this. The Harps corporation is a part of this community and we want to do what we can to help. We're trying to take care of our community first."
Louder felt much the same way, citing his main goal as "surviving and getting everyone through this as best we can."
From Harps, the center received several packages of different kinds of meat, ranging from chicken breast and ground beef to roast and seasonings. The school brought case after case of milk and juice, as well as other food products.
Several volunteers helped prepare and serve meals. In fact, the number of those wanting to help was so great, there is no definitive listing of everyone involved.
"There have been so many who have come in and helped," said shelter coordinator Teresa Roofe. "It's truly been a community effort. Everyone has just been wonderful. It really goes to show just how much the Rector community cares about each other."
Father and son Steve and Marshall Sigsby brought in cots from the Jonesboro chapter of the American Red Cross to further transform the site into a shelter. The Sigsbys secured 22 cots for their fellow residents' use. So far, the center has had as many as 12 people stay overnight.
Starting Monday, Feb. 2, the community center began receiving meals through the Arkansas Baptist Association. The group prepares and delivers two meals, lunch and dinner, to the center. Volunteers from the Paragould First United Methodist Church are serving the meals. The center and its volunteers continue to provide breakfast for the community. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9 a.m. with lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 7 p.m.
With many residents likely to remain without power in their homes until at least the end of the week, Teresa Roofe says the community center plans to continue operating as a shelter until the crisis is over.
"We plan on being here to help for the duration."