There was a crisis at the Prine Elementary School shelter before Hurricane Irma arrived.
The coffee ran out.
“If that’s the worst thing that we encounter, we’ve done pretty good,” said Rebecca Britto, the assistant principal at Able Elementary in Bradenton, who is helping run Prine’s Hurricane Irma shelter this weekend.
No coffee is better than no ice, no toilet paper and no coffee at nearby Bayshore Elementary, Britto said.
“Bayshore has it worse than us,” Britto added.
Prine and its 1,100 evacuees might be having a little better time of it thanks to the skills of Ginger Thomas, who is usually the cafeteria manager at Johnson Middle School but was recruited to run the shelter kitchen at Prine.
“I just decided that nothing was going to get in the way of me helping these people get through this by giving them good meals,” said Thomas, who had snappy responses ready for any wise-guy evacuees.
When one man said he would like prime rib for lunch, she responded that his lunch was prime rib but looked like chicken nuggets.
Prine got an emergency shipment of food from the school district Thursday, but otherwise has been rapidly depleting the entire stock from which Prine typically feeds about 900 children a day.
“I’m trying to use all the frozen food first in case we lose power,” Thomas said.
Dinner Sunday night was a choice of a hot dog, pasta with meat sauce or lasagna. It’s an odd menu, but one that makes sense when you’re doing what you can with what you have.
“I’ve got 500 hotdogs,” Thomas said. “So we’re doing a little of this and a little of that.”
Thomas is also mixing in plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Miss Ginger has held this thing together” Britto said.
All good things must come to an end eventually, and Thomas and her crew hope that the storm passes through quickly simply due to their food supplies.
“I know I have enough to get us through all of Monday” Thomas said.
As for Sunday night, when Irma becomes an uninvited guest, Thomas planned to wear a funny apron just to lighten everyone’s mood.