July 30, 2011 Minot ND RC Journal

I haven’t stayed in touch because: NO time & data connectivity problems, here in Minot ND…..I have difficulty finding wifi signals. So, sometimes I only have phone but no data package services. My new expensive BB is not cooperating (I upgraded just for this deployment). Very busy….most RC have left…just an RN & me in Health Servcices (Client Health), & Staff Wellness (services to fellow red crossers). There are shelter workers here in other “Functions” ie (sheltering, feeding, bulk distribution), etc. Originally we had @ least 1- 2 RNs, & 2 EMTs 24/7 ea shift, covering shelters, at ea service site: service centers, bulk dist, etc. We’ve consolidated shelters. Today, we moved again to the City indoor Tennis Club (3/29). Originally, there were 400 of us RC from all over the country & Canada in the RC Staff Shelter; now we are probably down to 50. Both clients & community people have been respectful. I’ve only met 1 difficult person. I’m fine; most times our safety & that of the clients we serve are well managed; tonight my biggest problem is finding an unflooded route back to our staff shelter. Today has been a 14-1/2 hour shift; I’m on 24 hour call. I am tired to the bone. Terrible rains today; the bridge is closed due to flooding, so I can’t get to the staff shelter. The only other bridge in & out of town collapsed weeks ago. Still on a cot, which I don’t mind,co-ed, originlly with about 400 of us, running arond in our pajamas, hair sticking up in the air, just rolling out of bed. I’ve had a man sleeping in the cot next to me for 2 wks. Too funny. I sometimes look a fright. No cosmetics…..Nope, nothing except a red tube of lipstick (I think I was born with a red tube of lipstick in my hand), & a comb 4 me. Wash & wear hair thanks to a great stylist, Danielle Rodeffer, back in Waynesboro. Yes, we find moments of levity. Today our numbers are small enough that we segregated ourselves into a men’s & women’s side. We have many other agencies living in our shelter now. Wonderful pet rescue groups,(IFAWS, Noah’s Wish), lots of Canadians,Children’s Disaster Services, Southern Baptist Services, Army Corp of Engineers, too many to mention now. We’ve taken over the Minot high sch. I will probably be moving to a FEMA “tent city” sometime next week. HQ is @ the Catholic HS/MS, Bishop Ryan. They are moving to a new site because BR needs the space back. Several schools (7)have been destroyed, & school will be starting late, 9/5. Tons of Catholics & Lutherns here. Very few African Americans; lots of Indians & Swedes. There are 3 major Tribes & according to the locals, they do “not play well in the sand box”. All seem to still feel terribly opprssed by the caucasions. Heat index of 117 one day last wk. We sent @ least 5 residents to the ER via ambulance. Many of my dear RC friends have left, still looking shell shocked from their previous deployment in Joplin. Terrible…..so many children died. There is such a thing as Compassion Fatigue. I never understood the concept until now. I’m taking Aug off & won’t go out again until mid Sept. They have asked if I’d consider signing up for another week. Lots of our RC volunteers are in their mid-late to late 70s. Two of the nurses I worked w/ were 77 & 80! Finally I’ve got a car. Can you believe it…I’m driving a KIA Soul, lime green, & no license plates! I want to know where the cavies. L rats are. We get tired & grumpy, then find something funny….then laugh until we have tears running down or cheeks. I’ve put in 1- 1/2 days of light duty after I pulled, of all things, a groin muscle. Haven’t done that since my 5 year old brother, Ricky, when I was 10, pushed me down the stairs. I landed @ the bottom dof the stairs doing the splits. At least I missed the laundry basket @ the bottom. You never forget that type of pain. Meds, ice packs, & naproxen saved the day. I’m walking fine now, but hobbled around for a few days with a loaner cane. Carlos, a wonderful volunteer, gave me his cane, & yes, we have a wonderful Staff Wellness nurse, Jutta, who took good care of me. Coming home dates have moved each day…probably won’t be home until the 5th, 6th, or 7th. Moving target, but I’m trying to fly home to C’ville & not cause Jerry to pick me up in Richmond @ midnight as originally planned. My EMT instructor Bunny Hearn, would be so proud of some of my assessments….I really learned a lot, retaking classes all winter/spring. I am doing REALLY well. 1st 2 weeks had many UGH moments…now I’ve found my stride. Now it’s fun. I have a great boss, a retired Navy nurse. I’ve served w/ many of the volunteers before, & we give a squeal of delight when we realize we get to serve together again. The biggest issue is that w/ so many disasters this season, some volunteers have gone from one tragety to another, w/ no real breaks….Springfield, Birmingham, Joplin, etc. I don’t have the emtional & physical reserves to do that. I get too tired & my brain starts to burp after 21 days. I’ve learned, movement from 1 deployment after another depleats my body, soul, & brain. Plus, too much trauma back to back is not good for my spirit. Never enough time to meditate; I miss my ZEN Garden, my husband, & the cats. My kids worry for me as if they were the parent. I try not to complain about our living conditions as my mother was a Red Cross volunteer, in Europe, under General Omar Bradley’s Army division during WW ll. They sometimes had to put up their own tents & dig their latrines when they were separated from their troops. Opps. She won a medal for volunteering to take supplies to the troops over a road that was bombed by the Germans. She figured out their bombing times, drove like a bat out of hell, & got their supplies to them. She slept in a barn during a Mustard Gas attack. I wear her pins every day on deployment. This disjointed note was my effort to get some recent news out, while trying to stay awake putting pen to paper.

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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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2 Responses to July 30, 2011 Minot ND RC Journal

  1. You write eloquently on the roller coaster life in shelter deployments. A real love/hate relationship for me…but keep coming back for more. Share your connectivity frustrations. First chance I’ve had in many months to surf around a bit. And I discovered you! I’m a displaced Red Crosser from DC area now a Red Crescent volunteer in Tajikistan. Work as independent disaster specialist partnering with Tajikistan Red Crescent. Life has been turned upside down for me here in the Pamir Mountains. Very reminiscent of Red Cross shelters…except this is everyday life in some of the poorest places I’ve ever seen. Living in latrines at times with perennial intestinal problems that plague most of us internationals. All roads are treacherous, always alert for landslides and landmines, and some occasional hightened alerts here along Afghan border. otherwise, not unlike life in Washington DC metro area.
    Keep safe and sane out there in ND!

  2. Leslie, I so enjoyed hearing from you. I stayed out on deployment for a month, & since returning, have gone from one family or out-of-state event, to another, with last week dedicated to having all 4 kids & their “others” visiting. So, I have been remiss in keeping up with email & correspondence. I would love to hear more about your Red Crescent work. I too am from the DC Metro area (Olney); grew up in Montgomery Co., MD TERP (where I met my husband). Moved to Virginia 45 yrs ago, Shenandoah Valley, where I worked as a social worker in an adult psychiatric hospital for 38 yrs. I’ve been able to pursue my ARC DSHR deployments since retiring 3 yrs ago.

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