LIONS, TIGERS, & Tornadoes, Oh my! 7/15/11. Day four, & our 1st BIG scare arrived at 3 am this morning, with a loud call for “we have an emergency, all available Mass Care & Health Services are needed immediately”; 400 of us were nestling under the covers. In our co-ed dorm on the HS gym floor, we struggled in pitch dark to realize that we were not sharing an odd collective dream, as we heard panicked continued calls for immediate assistance with a wind storm, that affected one of our client shelters, which is referred to as Tent City, the Maysa Shelter, where most clients live in tents (not a red cross decision, we inherited this shelter), & a few RVs; many are financially strapped for cash, under insured, non insured, or on benefit programs. MAYSA is my current work assignment, where I represent Health Services as an EMT. I utilize a lot of my social work skills.I enjoy working with our clients, some of whom had little before the flood, & now have nothing. Many clients lost their homes, with few having flood insurance. Some still have water in their homes after 2 months. A few of our clients were homeless prior to the flood & there are few available housing resources. With the call for assistance, 200 of us, with adrenalin rushing through our systems, grabbed a cup of coffee, & then we were told to “stand down”, as a tornado had affected the shelter & the scene was not determined to be safe for our response. Actually, the area did sustain torrential rains and straight line winds, however with no tornado; some tents did collapse, some were destroyed, and a number of families with children, were “shaken up”, as their tents fell upon them. All is well today. Clean Up kits were obtained to manage the mess. Trailers & tents were soaked with water & debris. There were no physical injuries. It was a very scarey event, clients, in the dark, struggled out of their tents, in a true downpour, to get to the main bldg where some clients were living inside. There are a lot of tired clients resting this afternoon. We have a lot of client case workers on this DR, who are trying to work up eveyone within a few weeks so that the event can be returned to the local Chapter for management. FEMA has retrofitted 300 trailers to withstand temps to 30 below, w/ 200 additional trailers going through this cold weather rehab. Plans change frequently. Decisions made @ 5 PM, can complely change by 8 PM. Our client base is primarily caucasian, hispanic, & indian. There are 3 indian tribes nearby. We are 30 miles from the Canadian border. Client Case Workers, have been a true God Send. In fact, I’m sitting next to Sara, from North Georgia, & we are presently working on a very difficult case collaboratively. Staff showers & a laundry truck arrived today from the Southern Baptists, & we gals are delighted. Not enough time to Journal due to client needs. I’m working with retired psychiatrist, John G, MD, from Charlottesville (my Chapter) Central Virginia, Mountain Region; I have so enjoyed working with him. Our wonderful Staff Wellness RN, Jutta, is also from our Chapter. I have a great picture of Dr. G, with with Mickey Mouse, the symbol for children’s comfort, given out by our DMH mental health volunteers to children in crisis. Sometimes the most difficult of clients are much easier to work with than tired, mentally exhausted volunteers. Many red crossers have come here directly from other deployments, ie, Birmingham, Alabama, Springfield, Mass. & Joplin. Great sadness is expressed as they tell their stories. Some things we can only share within the safety of our ARC colleagues, as we maintain confidentiality, and we know the weariness and trauma of response. As usual, I am news deprived. I’ve not read a newspaper or watched news on TV for days. I am well. I’m making many new friends. I love this world of work, & the opportunities given to me to serve fellow Americans, through the ARC. God bless the people of Minot, on their long road to recovery. They are a resilient, proudly independent people.
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