Friday, June 30, 2006

Getting the run-around...

We are in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, parked at the local Red Cross chapter office (map), known as the Wyoming Valley Chapter.  I expect, however, that we will move sometime tomorrow to a new and, as yet, undetermined location nearby, which will be headquarters for the relief operation here.

Moving has become routine.  As you know, we were in Akron, Ohio just two days ago, on a different relief operation there.  We were there only two nights before we were re-deployed here to Pennsylvania.  We arrived yesterday afternoon in Harrisburg, where it looked like we would be setting up a relief headquarters there at the Harrisburg Mall.  We are the advance team here;  all our equipment was being held at FedEx in nearby Middletown.  We surveyed the space that was being looked at, and even had mall management take us up on the roof to scope out a location for our satellite dish.  It was the end of the day, and national headquarters (NHQ) had us hold off on retrieving the equipment because a second shipment was already en-route to the same FedEx holding facility.

We got to spend the night at the mall, with permission (they even let us tank up on water from one of their spigots).  We parked at the Bass Pro Shop end of the place (map), where we were able to find a quiet an relatively flat spot, and, since we knocked off early yesterday, we even had time after dinner to do a little mall browsing.  Bass Pro Shop is always an entertaining place to go;  the fish tank alone is worth the visit.

As it turns out, NHQ was also not certain that Harrisburg was the right place to locate the regional disaster operation headquarters -- Wilkes-Barre was also being looked at seriously.  This morning, as we were arranging for a truck to go retrieve our equipment, I got word that we would be setting up a headquarters in Scranton instead.  I dispatched the ECRV, which had been sent to Wilkes-Barre the previous day, to the Scranton location.  That location turned out to be both too small and also too expensive, and the plan changed back to Wilkes-Barre before we even left Harrisburg.  We finally arrived in Wilkes-Barre around 5pm today, with Louise driving the Budget truck full of equipment, and myself driving Odyssey.

Unfortunately, after widgeting around downtown Wilkes-Barre for several miles, dodging streets with low trees, we discovered that the chapter had moved, and we were at an old address.  A couple of quick phone calls led us to the right place, where we met up with our ECRV crew.

We spent most of the evening getting the ECRV on-line through our satellite network and setting up a wireless network here at the chapter.  This will let the other volunteers who are already here get working with some wireless IP phones and laptops while we help scope out larger accommodations outside the chapter offices, get the lease signed, and start setting up our network at that location using a fly-away satellite kit.  Once everything is good to go at the new location, we'll help move operations from the chapter office here.

In the meantime, another group of volunteers has been working on setting up some kind of service delivery site down in Harrisburg, at the location we scoped out yesterday.  I have to send someone down there tomorrow with some laptops to help them out -- too bad we did not get word of this earlier today, when both we and the equipment were still in the Harrisburg area.

One of the downsides of working disaster relief is that we end up whizzing through interesting areas without time to stop and enjoy them.  We had to pick our rental truck up today on Chocolate Blvd. in Hershey, PA -- where the factory is.  We passed it;  the whole town smells of chocolate.  Some day, perhaps we can return and take the tour.

It has been a long day, and we're wiped out.  Tomorrow is shaping up to be likewise -- I'm not sure when I will next get a chance to post.


1 comment:

  1. We have had a rough couple of days up in Central NY as well. My area is relatively dry, but just east of us got hit hard, as did the 'southern tier' near Binghamton. Thanks for helping! Ned

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