Friday, October 26, 2012

Waiting for Hurricane Godot (I mean Sandy)

The phrase "jailhouse lawyer" has always been one of my favorites. It refers to a prisoner whom, due to an enormous amount of time on their hands and a similarly overwhelming interest in a particular issue (like the law pertaining to their case, for example) will become a stone-cold expert on the subject. Interest + time = supreme competence. Now, I'm not saying that FEMA Corps is becoming expert on the path, prospected landfall and media reports regarding Hurricane/Frankenstorm Sandy, but we're getting close.  It seems like Sandy is certain to make landfall on the East Coast, and given that it's a really humongous storm and that the East Coast is full of people and expensive buildings, several media outlets I've seen are predicting over a billion dollars in damage.

Before I continue, wherever I'm going, I'd like to put something to bed real fast. During FEMA Corps's four weeks of inactivity and six weeks of training, the point has repeatedly and persistently been raised that we work only during disasters. Therefore, if you're rooting for the Corps to get off our tuchases and start performing the work for which we were intended, you're also indirectly rooting for widespread destruction of some very nice places that looked much better when the buildings worked properly, not to mention immense human trauma and suffering. Can we put that idea down once and for all, please? You want to do work, and you want to help people. That's natural, human and totally logical. You want to serve communities in the way you've been trained to do. That way just happens to be disaster response. It's not your fault that that has to coincide with a disaster; disasters just happen and there's nothing to be done about it. The storm doesn't care about what you want, it just does what it does. Enough discussion on this tired point already.

So where was I going? Yes. Twenty-one teams, plus the Vinton contingent, are currently eying Hurricane Sandy as she grinds toward the East Coast. Barring a miracle, she'll touch down somewhere, and unless the concept of logic decides to turn inside out and eat itself, FEMA Corps will be part of the response effort. 

Where will we be? Will Summit Five go anywhere? It's impossible to say. The thinking here is that they won't need every single team, but that's pure speculation. My TL just texted us asking everybody to keep her informed of their location (if we go away from home or whatever) in case we need to pack up and go on short notice, but that too is just a precaution. We really don't know anything yet about whether we'll be needed, although I've volunteered to come in and work the weekend shift at the Region 4 Coordination Center if needed. 

I don't know. This is our chance to go out and use our skills, a chance to finally end a month of inactivity, a chance to go help people in need like we were always supposed to do. But the previous paragraph aside, I find it almost indecently selfish to be even thinking that way. Sandy is predicted to hit some of my favorite places, filled with some of my favorite people and their families. If it made a U-turn and headed off to go bother the Azores instead, I'd be overjoyed. 

For the next 72 hours, FEMA Corps--and everyone in the path of the storm--will be waiting on tenterhooks. I just hope this whole thing ends with everybody I know over there still OK. To my friends in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts and D.C: keep your heads down and stay safe.


Anonymous said...

"unless the concept of logic decides to turn inside out and eat itself, FEMA Corps will be part of the response effort"

Hah, you haven't been with FEMA for very long, have you?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I must say , I enjoy your blog. I wish someone in my daughters crew would consistently be able to blog what is happening. I Know everyone is busy. Take care all of you.

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