Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot at the Hot Site

We are at the Red Cross disaster "hot site" in Montgomery, Alabama. No map link today for security reasons. Long-time readers know we have been here before.

We arrived here just a little before 4pm yesterday, early enough for someone from the local chapter to come over and let us in. Good thing we stopped by, because about a quarter of the computers pre-positioned here were off line for one reason or another, and that means they could not be remotely upgraded or managed by headquarters. We were able to fix all but two, with an additional two unusable because the screen back-lights had gone out.

The building here has a lone 20-amp receptacle on the outside, and while we did run the genny for about an hour after we arrived, that outlet has been keeping us mostly cool since then. In fact, we decided to just spend another night here, since we still did not know by mid-day if we were standing down from Bonnie yet. It was 99° here in the heat of the day, and it has been a mighty struggle for the lone air conditioner we can run on such a small power feed to keep up. I've had the air compressor off most of the day, bumping it on briefly every couple hours while I switch the air conditioner to fan-only, otherwise the inverter trips about every other time -- that's how hot it is here. The oppressive heat has had us pinned down inside the bus all day, with the awnings out and the blinds drawn.

Still, it's hard to complain about a "free" power outlet. And if we actually had to run a relief operation out of this building, there is enough power inside for us to pull a full 50-amp, 240-volt circuit. Without access to the building when we are ready to leave, though, I could not make use of the inside service. The building also has a water spigot and an outside sewer access, so we could settle in for the long haul if we had to.

We were able to wrap up everything we needed to do yesterday evening, so we did not need to call anyone today to let us back in. And we still had plenty of time to make it to dinner at the excellent Capital City Club downtown, atop the Regions Bank building. It was quite warm when we left for dinner, and we started riding over there in our shirtsleeves.

Unfortunately, the heavens opened into a torrential downpour as we were about half way there. We both have all the gear needed to ride in almost any weather, including this kind of rain, but with the temperature well into the 90s, we neglected to bring any of it, and so we had to turn back home and strip out of our wet clothes. In about half an hour the storm had passed, and with dry clothes on and proper rain gear with us just in case, we made our way back to the club for a nice dinner, just about 45 minutes behind schedule.

With Bonnie having fizzled completely, and being a bit too far away from the dam failure in Iowa (although we were just a few miles from there barely a week ago) to be considered for deployment there, tomorrow we will resume our planned route south to Fort Walton Beach. It's about a four-hour drive, but with no convenient power pedestals between here and there, we're just going to push all the way through. It's too hot anyplace north of the state line to want to linger, and the beachfront is anywhere from five to ten degrees cooler.

Photo by StewBl@ck, used under a Creative Commons license. And because those are some cute dogs.


  1. I am very impressed and proud of the work you do. It sounds very intriguing.

    Sean, you may want to look at the above link. We stayed here fall of 2009 and loved it. has 50 amp and water at $12/night. We stayed in 35 ft. MH and roads were good. near Andulasa, AL on way to florida. Good luck and we will continue to follow.

  3. Thanks for the link - they are cute aren't they!

  4. @Royal Ranch: Thanks, Judy -- we actually find it quite enjoyable work to do.

    @Barry: Given that it was only an hour from here, and we'd be trapped inside the bus by the heat anyway, we decided to push on through. But we did alter our planned route to drive right by there, just in case -- it looked nice. Thanks for the tip. There is also reportedly a campground north of there, on "Point 'A' Lake", but we apparently could not figure out how to get there from, uhh, "Point B."

    @Stew: Thanks for licensing your photo. Great shot.


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