Monday, September 15, 2008

A well-earned rest

We are still parked at the vacant industrial building in Orlando that served as relief headquarters for Hanna/Ike. We've been comfortable here, and, up until 11 last night, we've had two 30-amp legs of power.

For whatever reason, the main breaker for the majority of the building tripped last night; this morning I called the landlord, who is sending someone over to check it out. (One does not just reset one of these monsters; there's a sequence to be followed, and the cause of the trip needs to be investigated. Looks to me like a single-leg dropout or ground fault due to nearby electrical storms.) Fortunately, most of the Red Cross space is fed from a separate building entrance/transformer, which did not trip out, so we pulled around to the north side of the building at midnight, and just ran an extension cord through the door and into a 20-amp outlet. The cord's rated for 13 amps, which is just enough to run one A/C.

As I wrote in my last post, we elected not to make the mad dash back to Texas to continue with this relief operation. Our good friends Don and CC, who live in Channelview (and we do hope their house there is OK) have taken over for us, and so we know the operation is in good hands, technologically speaking. We did send two of our staff members over to them on Thursday, as we had the place mostly packed up by Wednesday night. We kept the ECRV crew here Thursday to finish up, and they drove the truck home to Atlanta on Friday.

After chasing Dolly, Fay, Hanna, and the near-miss on Florida of Ike, we felt bad that we could not actually be there for what turns out to be the largest relief effort of the year. But after being deployed nearly continuously for eight full weeks, we needed a rest, and the logistics of getting ourselves to Dallas in time to set up the operation there, while at the same time ensuring all the steps to wrap up here were taken, would have been daunting. I am confident that we will still be of some help along the gulf -- people currently in Louisiana from Gustav are coming up on their terms, and will need to be relieved. Unless something else takes aim at Florida in the next week or so, we are gearing up to head in that direction.

After we had everything packed up and shipped on Thursday, we had the usual post-operation "crash," where we sat around the bus like zombies and did absolutely nothing for a full day. I did spend some time Friday and a good part of Saturday writing reports and wrapping up loose ends. We were essentially finished Saturday, and we called staffing to process ourselves off the job. However, one consequence of being entrusted with the keys (as we so often are, because we are living on the premises, as well as needing 24-hour access to tend to the server and satellite equipment as needed) is that we are on the hook to close the place up and turn the keys over to the local chapter.

This is actually an unusual occurrence; normally, when we finish an operation, the space we occupied, which is often begged, borrowed, or rented on a short-term, as-needed basis, returns immediately to the landlord. We thus have a good deal of pressure to completely vacate the space, as well as clean it up. In this case, however, the Red Cross has leased this space through December 31, so that it will be available for any other storms this season. (Also, I think the landlord was not amenable to anything shorter.) So we've left all the tables and chairs, and some ethernet wiring that we fabricated on-site, as well as office supplies, bottled water, and shelf stable snacks. (All the technology equipment has been sent on to Dallas or returned to Austin.)

The chapter will take custody of the keys until the next time we need to use the facility, or the lease ends. We are just waiting now for one last item, which is to have the dumpster picked up. We've been told that's scheduled for sometime today; once that's been done, we will drive the keys over to the chapter office, and return our rental car to the airport. We'll stay here, running on our 13-amp circuit, until at least tomorrow; we'll padlock the gate behind us on our way out.

Speaking of which, I know I have previously written that we would be going to Disney World when we finish here. However, temperatures here have been in the mid-to-high 90s, with humidity to match, and the idea of wandering around a theme park in those conditions is not entirely appealing. It turns out, though, that we can reach the Wet & Wild water park from here on a single city bus, and perhaps we will spend the day there tomorrow. A water park seems much more appealing in this sort of weather.

If temperatures come down some by the end of the week, perhaps we'll spend a couple of nights with Disney anyway. I know for sure we'll need to head someplace by Wednesday, because our tanks are nearly full. After we are done in Orlando, we'll try to catch up with friends in Jacksonville or Live Oak.

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