Thursday, November 10, 2005

We are everywhere

This blurry picture is of a map near my desk. It shows, with small stickers, the hometowns of the volunteers on this Red Cross Disaster Relief. Off to the side and not visible in the photo are maps of Africa, Europe, South America and the rest of North America, also with many stickers. The map amazes me; literally thousands of people have given on average three weeks of their time to be here. Many left behind spouse and children to sleep on a cot in a shelter, take showers in large tents, work 10 hours days and get up to do it again.

By contrast, our deployment seems like a cake walk. Traveling is what we do, so getting here was a normal part of our routine. We sleep in our own bed, rest comfortably in our own easy chairs, pet our animals, and eat our regular diet. The 10 hour days are tiring, though, especially after not having regular jobs for over a year. By the time we cook and eat dinner, do a few errands like laundry or grocery shopping or dumping the tanks, or have a much needed social evening with our coworkers, there isn't much time or energy left for blogging!

I know our families have been checking in for updated info here; sorry for the long delays between posts. There really isn't much new to report. We're still in the Lowe's parking lot, the weather has turned autumnal. In Louisiana, that means cold, foggy, drippingly damp mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. Our towels don't really dry out between showers. On the work front, we are both considered "old timers" now and train the newcomers. I enjoy that; its fun to play the part of expert. About once a week, I get to go on a field trip to a location outside Baton Rouge. This week I went to Lake Charles, which is a two hour trip. There is a shelter there in the Civic Center which has been having many technical issues. We've installed and re-installed phones, fixed fax machines, retrieved wayward computers, and tried to be as helpful as possible while offering support from so far away.

We also drove a big loop around Lake Pontchartrain on our day off, to get a better look at the area in the daylight. All I can say is that the photos you saw on the news in the last few months do not capture the devastation and the despair. There remains years of rebuilding ahead, with each cracked open house with its spilling, sodden, smelly contents representing an unimaginable heartache for some family. The news media has moved on to new items, but this damage is still here. It is less than 1% fixed.

If you want to join us on that map in the photo, you can. You can volunteer, or you can do something that many of the volunteers can't afford. You can donate to the Red Cross, or another charity that is helping. Or, at the very least, remember that we are all vulnerable to forces larger than ourselves, so be kind and loving to another. Its the least we can do.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see you posting again, especially to get a first-hand view of the continuing tragedy of the aftermath. We're in Los Angeles, and the media, inevitably, has moved on from Katrina to the never-ending litany of tornadoes, suicide bombings, local shootings and freeway car chases. Please continue your "hands-on" reportage and commentary.


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