Hello everyone. I wanted to give you an update because Steve and I are getting text messages asking about our status, so I thought it would be best to tell you all the same story at the same time. So here goes,
We are exhausted. We are working at the headquarters of the Disaster Recovery organization for the Mississippi operation. I am the assistant to the Chief of the Mass Care Operation. Steve is the assistant to the Chief of Bulk Distribution. I spend my days working with staffing of shelters, helping answer phones for the feeding teams, and generally doing whatever the Chief needs me to do. Steve works in the warehouse where they are loading trucks with food, clean-up kits, water, etc. There were some 4000 people who needed sheltering in the state of Mississippi and there are approximately 750 volunteers and Red Cross staff working to assist them.
What I am overwhelmed by is the logistical nightmare it is to get this job done. I cannot write the details of the work that goes on every day, but imagine 750 people coming together, the vast majority of which have never worked together before (or rarely have worked together) and trying to get the food organized and shipped to each shelter, the shelter staffed, cleaned, supplied with cots, blankets, pillows, etc., the Emergency Response Vehicles staffed and loaded with food, water, etc. and organizing which streets/neighborhoods will be covered by each ERV. It takes an army of people.
I am so impressed with these volunteers. Most of them have taken vacation time from their jobs and left spouses and family behind because they felt the call to be of assistance to those in need. These people really care and are willing to endure some pretty uncomfortable situations themselves so that they can be there for someone who needs help. Steve and I are very lucky. We are sleeping in our comfortable Big Red, but a good number of these volunteers are sleeping in the shelters along with those who came to them for help. Enduring sleepless nights and the uncomfortable situation of having to share a shower with strangers are not all they have to do (if they have showers). They then have to put in a 12-15 hour day running endlessly trying to make sure things are getting done and needs are met.
If you haven't ever done so before, please consider making a donation to the Red Cross. I am sure you will be as surprised as Steve and I were when I tell you that this organization is funded completely on donated money. They get some support from the United Way, but the vast majority of their funds are donations.
So, okay, we're exhausted. We're going to bed so we can get up and do it again tomorrow. Mississippi is cleaning up and things are going back to normal quicker than anticipated, which is great for those people. Louisiana is still struggling with 800,000 without power. We have transferred staff from our operation to theirs to backfill the gap. Some of these volunteers started in Florida, then came to Mississippi, and are now on their way to Louisiana. God Bless Them!!!!
Goodnight everyone and thanks for the kind words and thoughts.