Saturday, November 3, 2007

A slow day...

I am posting from Red Cross relief operation headquarters in San Bernardino. As Louise has written, we are parked out on the street, just a block away, with the blessing of the San Bernardino police. There are other DOVEs on the operation as well, and we have a fifth wheel parked just down the street from us. As usual, I can not post a map link for security reasons.

The space we are occupying is very generously being lent to us by the San Manuel tribe, who have a casino nearby. The building we are in is a storage warehouse for their gaming operation. We are also not far away from the National Orange Show (NOS) grounds, where we have been running a shelter (closing today), kitchen (closing soon), and casework Service Delivery center. At least one other DOVE rig is over at the NOS -- I think they are in the kitchen department.

We've been working 12+ hour days, and so I have not had a chance to blog from the rig. Today is a slow day, though, and it's quiet here -- the speedway over at the NOS is hosting a night of racing (stock car, I think) free for all Red Cross volunteers and evacuees, and we've kicked the rest of the department loose early tonight so they can go take in the races. Louise and I are covering the shop, which is still very quiet -- I think many other departments also released folks early for the races.

Lately, we have been deployed to operations mostly in supervisory capacities, and, on this job, Louise was moved into that role on our first day, replacing someone who had to leave the job early because her own home was threatened by the fires. I, on the other hand, had a glorious three days as an individual contributor, which meant, among other things, that I was available for field work. As such, I was part of an early-entry party that went "up the hill" into the disaster area just behind the firefighters mopping up, and just ahead of the first residents. I have to say, it hit me pretty hard, even though I have seen a lot of destroyed homes. Our disaster response vehicles were distributing shovels and "sifters" -- an arrangement of steel mesh on a wood frame. It is rather heartbreaking to envision people shoveling ash through a steel grate in the feeble hopes of finding some small mementos of their lives -- perhaps a piece of jewelry, or traces of the family silver. I had to fight back tears.

My availability for the more cherry field assignments was short-lived, as I moved back up to a supervisory role on our fourth day. So I am now chained to a desk, more or less. I did get to go over to the NOS site briefly to help the team we deployed there get their satellite dish on-line -- we had a bad cable set, and I brought a spare with me.

Celebrities Elisabeth Röhm (Law and Order) and Tasha Smith made an appearance here at headquarters today, and some of the more star-struck members of our department went out to the parking lot to snap a photo with them in front of the ECRV. We opted out of the photo-op circus.

It's hard to say when we will wrap up here, but we are expecting to spend Thanksgiving. If previous Red Cross experience is any guide, they will find a way to provide us with a nice turkey dinner with all the fixings. That being said, if the hotshots knock all these fires down in the next few days, we may be on our way before then. In either case, the end of the month will likely see us in Mexico, making our way down the east coast of Baja.

I will try to post more as time becomes available, but it will be sporadic until the operation ends or they reduce the working hours here at HQ.

1 comment:

  1. I vote for a picture of Odyssey parked on the street (once the location is not secret). Keep up the good work. EJ


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