5/25 Red Cross Journal Notes, Memphis, Tn Floods

Subject: 5/25 Red Cross Journal Notes
Sent: May 25, 2010 1:49 PM

The Response operations are winding down. Some red crossers are out-processing Thurs. I’m more than likely here until the 1st, as we are doing “outreach”, far away from Memphis, where we are finding pockets of flood survivors. These clients are the poorest of the poor. Most lived in horrible low budget motel apts, that meets our “major & destroyed” categories. They were rescued by boat through the fire dept & moved to other horrible motels. Primarily Caucasian, there poor people are those cast-a-ways of our society, with a myriad of special needs: serious & persistent major mental illness, persons with mental retardation, neurological/cognitive issues, seizure disorders, & physical disAbilities, addictions (crack & meth are the substances of preference), many, many, serious chronic medical problems, & a host of legal issues w/ Probation/Parole, etc. Lost glasses, medications, nebulizers, glucometers, wheelchairs, walkers, & even a prosthetic leg, all lost in the contaminated flood waters. I have been busy scrambling to replace these items. Most of those we are serving this week are TN Medicaid, Medicare, & benefit program recipients, but lost their cell phones in the flood, so we are coordinating Information & Referral, & developing wrap-a-round support systems. Most have been extremely appreciative, and although they might be a bit worrisome because of their issues, we have not felt much caution for our safety, because we are viewed as being their ticket to Recovery, & not a threat. Many are illiterate, & can’t understand the massive amts of paperwork they are being asked to manage. This work, although exhausting, energizes me, & my social work skills are flowing. I love this work & the people we are serving. I cringe when I hear other providers reference these folks with disgust.  Many very young moms with gaggles of babies. Everyone seems to smoke non-stop, made worse by their high stress & anxiety levels. Oral hygiene or the lack there of, is prominent, w/ many children & adults missing teeth due to decay. Our morning started off with roadblocks due to a chemical spill of sulfur dioxide which developed a chemical cloud. Finally after 3 detours, we made it to Dyer Co. Our teams in Millington were called back to HQs due to the spill. Keep in touch. I’m spending my day off tomorrow with my brother David Lichtermann & Lynne. Their gracious offer is wonderful; I can wash my clothes, sleep in, mail stuff too heavy to carry home; etc. I am over joyed. ~susan~

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About tydingsfrushour

Retired social worker, EMT, Red Cross disaster responder. Disaster response, animal rescue, gardening, family, & writing, round out my life. Enjoy country life in the Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge mountains.
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