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Archive for April, 2010

Iris and VOAD

We have been on disaster for 26 days. Looking back it has flown by, but day by day sitting in the office it creeps by slower than molasses.

I haven’t written in a while because we have been doing basically the same work the entire time. Since I last wrote I’ve only had 2 days off.

The work is either data base entry by city, Iris program entering for the call center, or calling flood victims back about their damage.

Luckily, I got assigned to a new job about week and a half ago so I had the chance to change up the routine a bit. Therefore, I haven’t made a call in well over a week.

I a personal assistant now. I sit in on several meetings a week taking notes, typing them up and distributing them to a large email list. I am also the communication link between several organizations, which puts me in charge of sending out press releases and situation reports.

It’s been a great job for me because I really feel like I am in the know about the behind the scenes work with this disaster. Also, I get to do my own thing sometimes instead doing what the team is doing all the time.

Wednesday morning started with a PT test that went much better for me than expected. I dreading it because I didn’t want to get up early and I hadn’t been feeling too strong lately; however I ended up maxing out and get a perfect score. Running a 7:43 mile was a pretty big accomplishment for me because running isn’t my thing. It was difficult but when I was done I was proud.

Wednesday afternoon I went to the first long term recovery meeting in Warwick with all the big shots of several different organizations involved in the recovery. Due to me being the official note taker for the meeting I sat at the head table with the Deputy Director of FEMA, the Director of RIEMA and a few other important people from the state. They were all fascinated in AmeriCorps NCCC and baffled by our living situation.

We have the entire weekend off, which is a first in quite a while and I am heading to Boston to relax, sleep in a bed, take a bath and enjoy great company!

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For the past week all Badger one has done is breath, eat, sleep and work disaster. It has been an incredible experience in hundreds of ways!

I feel like I am on a never ending roller coaster ride. Some days I am so mentally exhausted it is a real struggle to listen to everyone’s individual problems and issues and help them with the information and resources they need. Other days I’m like superwoman and feel like I’m making a big difference to individual people around Rhode Island. When I get off the phone and a person is throughly appreciative and thankful that I have given them locations where they can get food, clothing, shelter; or just take their information so someone can come help them clean up the monstrous mess waiting for them in their basement, I know what I’m doing is important.

Working at the United Way 211 center in Providence has been a great experience. The various women we are working with are sweet and fascinating ladies. They are always thanks us for our work and bring us pastries and wraps!

The few chances I ‘ve had to take calls in the call center are always entertaining. It’s amazing some of the questions people call about. Right now for the most part all the calls are in regards to FEMA, shelter or the flood.

So far the main tasks we have been working on are taking damage assessment forms from people, then calling them back to ask if they are safe, if they need food, clothing, shelter or city information. Then we figure out if they will need volunteer help with clean up so we take more information about what and where the damage is, the people who live there and other items. We are also in charge of filing all of this and keeping it organized because we have to enter everything into the data base.

Yesterday I was asked to sit in on a meeting between FEMA, United Way, Serve Rhode Island, Hands On Disaster Relief, the Red Cross and other volunteer organizations to take the minutes. I felt like I was in college again and it was wonderful to be involved in what was going on and hear about the next steps in the recovery process.

Last weekend we were asked to work on Easter, which I was a little surprised about, but if a disaster doesn’t rest then neither do we. However, we did get done around 2 and had the chance to head up to Marshfield for some Easter dinner with Chris’ family and then enjoy the warm weather on the beach. If felt great to get out of Cumberland and away from all the disaster madness.

Hands on Disaster relief showed up a few days ago and they are getting things rolling on the clean up side. Volunteers are now out and about going to peoples homes and seeing what they need help with and what kinds of tools or skills are required.

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