Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sweet home, Alabama

Good morning everyone. I have a few minutes here on my first break since arriving in Birmingham ten days ago. This being Sunday in Alabama, we at relief operation headquarters were asked to reduce to "skeleton staff" until 1pm, and so I took the morning off. Most of my team are working, as the reduced staffing gives us a good chance to catch up on cleaning up our cabling and other housekeeping, however each of them has had or will have a full day off.

I think Louise has done a great job keeping the blog up to date as she travels across country with our good friend Godfrey. I must say that Godfrey's professional photos are adding a touch of class to the blog as well. Louise is hoping to be in "deployable" range of the flooding occurring or about to occur along the Mississippi and its tributaries by the time they are calling up technology managers for those operations. The nine major relief operations ongoing right now, including this one, have depleted the pool of qualified volunteers; I have an opening for a networking manager in a few days that I am having trouble filling.

While Louise is driving, I am doing what I normally do when we travel, albeit from two thousand miles away: plotting each day's route on the mapping software, and estimating overnight stops as well as any other needs such as fuel, dumps, etc.. For example, today she will stop at a specific Wal-Mart on the route where I have found some pre-paid Virgin Mobile MiFi units in stock, so she can get online in spite of the satellite dish failure.

One upcoming challenge for us in routing her is the fact that I-40 is closed at the White River bridge in Arkansas due to flooding. I am soliciting assistance from several places in routing her around the closure, and I invite any readers with direct local knowledge of the situation to either email me suggestions or post them in the comments. We do have an inside track: a friend and fellow Red Cross technology volunteer (from Hawaii, actually) is running the tech department on the Arkansas relief operation, and he has agreed to keep me updated with the latest closure information fed to him by the operation there.

I suspect this is the last post you will see from me here for a while, at least until I have another half-day off, unless we get into a jam and I need to ask for help here. However, I am doing my best to update my Twitter feed from my cell phone as the operation progresses. Mostly I have been tweeting photos from headquarters. (I am generally not traveling in the affected areas, and the Red Cross policy of respecting the privacy and grieving of our clients prohibits me from taking photos of damaged homes, so please do not ask.) You can see my latest tweets here on the blog in the sidebar, or follow me directly on Twitter at @slwelsh.


  1. Amazing job you are doing. Thanks to you and Louise for all your hard work with the Red Cross.

  2. Sean,
    I was in Alabama yesterday and the damage was unbelievable! I ran 72 from Corinth, MS to Muscle Shoals and 157 down to Cullman then I-65 to I-20 to Bessemer and back the same route! WOW I saw some very grim sights!

    As far as Louise's detour I'd probably go up I-44 to US 60 to US 63 and back down to I-55 right outside of Memphis.

    Also Louise & Godfrey are welcome to land here if needed!
    Bryce aka "BK"


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!