DR 871 (Hurricane Katrina)

Trip Start Jul 28, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Saturday, September 3, 2005

I don't have to describe the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina; it's worldwide news. But it's thrown a wrench into our trip too. We had planned to go from Charlotte to Savannah, New Orleans, Houston, Brownsville -- unless we decided to change our plans. Then our plans were changed for us. The good news is that because of the nature of our trip, we didn't have any reservations or bookings. We have no airlines to call and argue with, no hotel managers to try to get ahold of. We can just pull out the map, choose another destination, and go merrily on our way.

Except we can't do that. We're watching TV and it's really, really bad. And here we are, bags already packed full of insect repellent and waterproof boots, immunizations up to date for tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and yellow fever. We have a month of carefree laziness behind us and a year of free time ahead of us. We can't not volunteer.

So today we went down to the Union County Red Cross office in Monroe, North Carolina for a disaster response training course. Except for the time in Sunset Beach when I figured I should see at least one sunrise, this is the first time I've woken up with an alarm clock since I quit my job. And once I dragged my miserable behind out of bed and took a shower, it was a really good feeling to get up and do something with purpose.

Beside Michael and me, there were twenty other people there. We learned all about how a disaster affects a community, what the Red Cross does and how, the types of tasks we might be expected to do, the procedures for coming in and setting up a shelter, and running it. The Hurricane Katrina assignment meets all thirteen Red Cross hardship code definitions except for one: Extreme Cold. I'm nervous. I have no worries about the personal discomfort, but my social work skills are rusty and I'm afraid of being ineffective. But I will just have to do my best and hope that I rise to the occasion.

After the presentation, we spoke with the director one on one. Normally it takes a few days to process potential volunteers into the system and place them at sites, but Michael explained the trip we're on and impressed upon her that we are literally ready to go right this second. We have every suggested shot, every item on their supply list is packed, and we have no employers or children to deal with. She took a liking to Michael (he's so earnest and charming) and wanted to send us immediately, but we can't do anything without a Red Cross ID. And since it's a holiday weekend, that might be hard to get. But she's going to call around and see what can be done.

So sometime between Tuesday and Friday of next week, Michael and I are going to be sent somewhere to help out. We don't care where we're sent, but we do hope we can remain together, which is not a guarantee. Now we're just sitting and waiting for the phone call.

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