Saturday, September 9, 2006

Coming up for air in Richmond

Odyssey is in Richmond, Virgina, at Red Cross relief operation headquarters for Tropical Storm Ernesto.  We arrived on the job last Friday, and immediately settled in to work.

The facility we are in is actually now under long term lease, and will be used as a logistics staging warehouse as well as relief headquarters for this and any future operations in the Richmond area.  As such, it is a large warehouse facility with a dozen or so dock bays.  We are parked at one of the bays, which is otherwise unusable because there is a hard-wall room just inside the dock door that precludes forklift access.  I found a 50-amp, 220-volt welding outlet just inside the door, and I threw together an adapter to get us a full power feed.  Also inside is a slop sink with hose threads, and I was able to tank up on water one evening.

Unfortunately, we arrived here just ahead of the main portion of Ernesto, and Odyssey was drenched in the first 48 hours we were here.  The combination of tropical storm rains and high winds maximized the intrusion through our myriad window leaks, to the point that we had to put pitchers in the worst spots, and empty them every couple hours.  I would estimate that 3-4 gallons of rainwater intruded into the coach.  Things are drying out now, with pleasant warm weather and the ability to run all the air conditioners as needed.

The operation is winding down now, and, as our workload decreases, I have been assigning staff to the ongoing project of installing permanent wiring in the building, to support the warehouse and long-term headquarters facilities, as well as a Continuity-Of-Operations-Plan (COOP) site for the Disaster Operations Center.  The existing COOP site, in Falls Church, is slated to be retired as the Red Cross continues to move out of that building.

Louise is in California, having flown there Thursday to assist with a family emergency.  This is the first time either one of us has had to use the Red Cross travel mechanism.  They processed her off the operation and were able to get her a flight out all in the same afternoon.  We work very well as a team, and I actually had to order another qualified person to come in to replace her on the job.  Interestingly, they sent someone we had trained ourselves in Wilkes-Barre.

All of us here aboard Odyssey miss her greatly, and, as if to underscore that fact, two of the three tropical fish died the very next day.  So we are back down to five souls on board.  The last fish is still hanging in there, and I will let Louise post the whole fish story, as it were.

With Louise gone, I had to cancel my planned day off yesterday, and, instead, took a few hours off yesterday afternoon and again today, giving me a chance to post an update here.  I would have done it yesterday, but I had to run out for some groceries and essentials, and got stuck in the horrendous traffic here in Richmond resulting from the NASCAR race this weekend.  Our facility is very close to the track -- so close that the landlord is providing security to keep the race fans from parking in our lot.  Also, there are no hotel rooms available in town, and most of our staff is sleeping on cots, dormitory-style, in the warehouse.  I have the most luxurious digs on the job, at the moment.

I probably will not get to post again until we wrap up the operation.  I'm guessing that will be sometime mid-week.  From here, I will head towards Houston on the most direct freeway route, until Louise can fly back to join me somewhere along the way.  We have already mapped out the half dozen or so airports along the way that are served by Southwest -- the only airline with decent one-way fares.

Just a quick note about the map page:  I have not posted a map link here, as is my custom when on a Red Cross operation.  Also, the Datastorm map page shows an "approximate" location, rounded to the nearest tenth of a degree -- which is to say, not near at all.  Just an artifact of how the map handles "approximate."  I will start posting accurate map links again once I leave the operation.

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts are with you two and I'm hoping the family emergency was not of the devestating type.


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