Helping hands

Temple Independent School District transportation workers transport people to shelters Tuesday night as people in need of help were taken to locations with power. Interim transportation director Amy Scopac, lower right; lead mechanic George Bell, lower left; and long-time driver Lindsey Davis, at the top of the stairwell, assist a resident of The Meridian in Temple get on a bus to be transported to The Vista.

The Temple Independent School District went the extra mile this week, helping to pick up residents in need of shelter.

“Temple is our town, and helping and supporting one another is what provides the sense of community we have here ... and it’s that sense of community that truly makes Temple a special place,” Amy Scopac, Temple ISD’s interim transportation director, told the Telegram. “That’s why we’re always ready to support one another, and our residents and our community as a whole.

On Tuesday, Temple ISD put that support into action when it dispatched eight vehicles — five buses and three vans — in an effort to rescue residents impacted by the area’s icy conditions. Scopac said Temple ISD worked closely with the Temple Police Department and the city of Temple throughout the process.

“We knew earlier in the day that there was a possibility that there may be a request coming through to help transport residents to the warming facility … and as soon as it did we were able to make our way through the snow and report for duty.”

Scopac said she relied on seven employees who she knew had winter-driving experience. Each vehicle her crew utilized was handicapped accessible, as Scopac said a majority of the residents they assisted were from The Meridian of Temple — a senior living community at 4312 S. 31st St.

“(The Meridian of Temple) had been without electricity for more than 24 hours by the time we transported them,” Scopac said. “Being elderly they were, of course, scared so they were definitely happy to see us. They were very sweet individuals and I’m glad that we were able to help them.”

George Bell, who was among those Temple ISD employees assisting with transportation, also was happy to lend a helping hand oTuesday.

“We started off at the hospital giving people rides home or to shelters, and then we got the phone call for The Meridian of Temple,” Bell, a mechanic for Temple ISD’s transportation department, said. “Personally it was a humbling experience that makes you appreciative, because there’s always someone out there that doesn’t have what you have.”

Bell said the residents he assisted, who had no electricity or water, thanked the Temple ISD crew “at least a 100 times.”

“We drive buses every day … but in the community’s eyes this was something good, and it is absolutely something that we would do again without hesitation,” he said. “We’re just waiting on the phone call to jump into the buses.”

Although Temple ISD is eager to continue assistance throughout the remainder of the week, Scopac said her department must wait for better road conditions before dispatching vehicles again.

“I’ve already had a call this morning from The Meridian of Temple this morning,” she said. “However, I had to put them on hold as the Temple Police Department is advising that the roads aren’t passable at the moment … as soon as they give us the OK that roads are passable, we will go rescue those people.”