My Red Cross volunteering thing

Nathan - good for you for doing this, and also thanks for sharing your story with us. It’s not as dramatic as some stuff we’ve all read about Katrina, but then again, life isn’t always super-dramatic, and just getting a street-level view (as an outsider), is interesting.

That’s part of why I wanted to write this up. There’s a good reason the real operation doesn’t get media coverage: It’s boring. A lot of people come in expecting to save the world and are immediately frustrated by checking in with staff health, waiting in line for their staff/debit card, and waiting around for deployment. Some people get really upset by it, but there it is.

It hasn’t even been particularly rough, though I hear it was worse in the beginning. All of the emergency-survival stuff I brought I’m pretty much trashing before I go. I haven’t needed the bottled water I brought, and I haven’t opened the MRE’s or snacks I packed. I used my air mattress a couple of times, so I’m glad I brought that. I really need to bring a travel pillow next time, but for the most part I’ve been carrying much more stuff than I’ve actually needed. It could be worse, though: I’ve met people who brought 30 lbs. of food because they thought they were going to be in the wilderness for two weeks or something. But you never know: When you pack for this, I get the feeling there’s a thin line between adequate preparation and overkill.

Flew home last night. I hate long flights. I was so bored I watched that Lindsey Lohan Herbie movie. I’ll get some pictures up as soon as I look through them and see which ones came out or are even worth posting.

Oh, nobody wants to see pics of Lindsay Loh…oh, gotcha.

Glad you are home safe Nathan.

The more I look at the photos I took, the more I realize how actually dull they are. I didn’t get any photos of damaged areas because I left my camera in the trunk, and photos of evacuees are explicitly prohibited by the Red Cross. So here’s some of where I went:

The HQ in Montgomery:

The interior, from the entrance. I’m afraid I didn’t get permission from any of these people to use their photograph:

The assignment area. Since I took this picture, they finally got a few more tables and chairs back there, so it’s not quite as unpleasant now. It’s right next to the staff shelter area where people try to sleep, which is why the lights are out.

Disaster relief on a Budget:

Wiring the Biloxi HQ. I think the Shriners were previously using the shrine as a donation center. When we got there, inmate workers were loading most of the donations onto a truck, and the boxes in the back were what they couldn’t load and would come back for in the morning. The server’s not up yet in this photo, but you can follow the cables to guess where it went.

Another Biloxi HQ shot. The streamers were already there. We never did find the switch for the disco ball:

The staff shelter in Gulfport. I was roughly in the center, but the other half of the shelter looks a lot like this one:

Setting up a satellite phone in Brookhaven is about as complicated as it looks. This is an older phone: With the newer ones I gather you don’t even need to put the antenna on a mast.

The Response Technology Team “office” in Montgomery. Appropriately, it’s in the old electronics department. Unlikely that you’ll meet them, but the three in the foreground, from left to right, are Don, Richard, and Alice. At the table in the back to the right are Kathy, Maureen, David, and Jerry. At the far back table is Levi, the head of the group. Everyone else I don’t know:

Ruggedized servers are neat:

Having rested for a couple of days now, I feel I can say that the experience was generally positive, and I’ll do it again. Just not right away.