Rider from the storm

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

On Sunday, Marv Baldwin said he woke up in Biloxi, Miss., with 30-foot windows facing the ocean — and stern orders to evacuate.

On Thursday, he woke up in Tucumcari.

Yes, he recalls the string of events that led him to this town after a year and a half of living large in a 13-story hotel not far from New Orleans and even closer to the Atlantic.

When asked how he ended up in Tucumcari, he simply answered: “On Route 66.”

Although Hurricane Katrina is geographically thousands of miles away, it is hitting the hearts of folks in town — not only with evacuees like Baldwin, but with a coalition of rescue efforts from the community. Money and supplies can be dropped off at area locations.

Baldwin said he is fortunate — he was able to gather most of his belongings before the masses left Biloxi at 11 a.m. on Sunday and load them into his trusty car, which he calls “Old Maude.”

He drove from Sunday until Thursday afternoon when he crashed at the Pony Soldier Motel.

“In my head I was outrunning it,” Baldwin said of the storm, “but I knew I couldn’t outrun it. The storm was heading northeast so I went northwest.”

A traveling life is nothing new to this full-time gambler and performer who said he got his start with a nightclub he owned in Peoria, Ill.

He said he’ll head further west to Nevada or California where he has friends and a daughter. Although he called his former Mississippi hometown laid back and beautiful, he will not miss certain aspects.

“I was fed up with the evacuation situations,” he said, adding he’s been evacuated three times since he roosted in Biloxi. He said he can easily relocate to a new location.

Others are not so fortunate.

“I had the means to get out. Some people have $40, a wife, two kids, two dogs and a car payment and can’t get out. I feel sorry for them. It’s not to say I am smarter than them, but I am fortunate.”

For those who are not so lucky, a massive rescue effort is abound right in town. Tucumcari folks Sherry Anaya, Cara Hendrickson and Sheriff Jack Huntley are spurring efforts to supply folks hardest hit by the hurricane.

“Upon listening to the community report this morning on the radio,” Anaya said of a Thursday broadcast, “the good Lord just moved me.”

Hendrickson, too, got the idea from a radio show and advisors at her school in House.

“I know if I was a kid in that situation,” Hendrickson said, “I’d be very, very scared.”

DONATE TO THE HURRICANE VICTIMS

What: donations

Money: an account set up at Wells Fargo called Operation New Orleans. Checks can be made payable to Operation New Orleans and handed to a teller.

Supplies: such as toothbrushes, combs, underwear, socks, toiletries, sundries, canned goods, coloring books, crayons, etc.

When: by Tuesday morning to get on the first truck going to Clovis and ultimately to Katrina victims.
Where: dropoff locations around town:
• Tucumcari Police Department
• Deluxe Barber and Hairstyling
• Ministry of Hope
• St. Anne’s Church
• Security Finance

For information, call:
Sherry Anaya at 461-2903
Cara Hendrickson at 487-6399
Or leave a message at:
461-2013
487-6619

Anaya said they are also seeking someone with a semi to haul future donations.