Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Thank-You and Deployment News!

Back on the blog after a few days of crazy travel and looking forward to another one tomorrow. Whoof! Even by FEMA Corps standards it's been a hectic week, but Summit 5 is rolling with the redeployments. 

Before I get into the meat of my updates for today, I'd like to--once again, sappiness is the order of the day--thank everybody for reading. Blogger gives me a handy little stats page to track pageviews with, and according to it, you gals and guys have set a record for pageviews on here three months in a row. (It's not like I was FiveThirtyEight before joining Americorps, but still, that's pretty cool.) In October, people viewed my various posts five thousand, six hundred and two times. That's nuts. Eighteen different posts of mine have 100 views or more, which is also nuts. Twice in Atlanta (and once in Anniston), FEMA employees I'd never met before came into my office to compliment me on my blog, which is really heady stuff. I know I'm still just one molecule in the gigantic blogosphere, but knowing that I'm read is one huge reason why I keep doing this, so once again, thank you.

Now, in the spirit of not boring everyone... onward we go!

As you may have heard, Hurricane Sandy happened. As you may not have heard, before the storm began, elements of FEMA Corps packed up and headed north to "pre-stage" Sandy. We weren't being officially deployed because states and counties had yet to be declared disasters, but FEMA wanted us in position to respond in case of a deployment. So Summit 5 packed its bags in about two hours, sped out of Atlanta like our hair was on fire and ended up at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland. We stayed there until the worst of the storm had passed, then moved out to Hartford, CT*. 

In Hartford, which I'm sure is a lovely city but I have yet to see it in full daylight, we found lodging in a National Guard armory. I can't describe how awesome this place is. It was built on top of a train roundhouse, where they turned the trains around at the end of the track; the building is over a hundred years old and contains, among other things, a piece of the battleship Maine (whose sinking triggered the Spanish-American War) and a uniform worn by the second-in-command of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. There are plentiful historical exhibits scattered throughout the building's lower floors, and two-hundred-year-old flags and modern trophies and pictures line its staircases and hallways.

Even without the memorabilia, this place is insanely impressive. We're staying in the main hall, or "drill shed" as they call it here, which is big enough to park a B-52 bomber inside without coming close to touching the walls. (I checked--it's long enough, although a mere 38 feet too narrow, to fit a Boeing 747. This building is IMMENSE.) It's been a circus, a basketball court and a morgue, among what I suspect are many other ad hoc uses. 

Inside that hall, we have slept, worked and eaten for maybe the past 24 hours. Our cots are squirreled away in a corner behind a set of bleachers, in the opposite corner from the FEMA makeshift offices in the same enormous room (to give you some idea of the size, a pass thrown from my cot to the opposite wall of the gym would more than qualify as a Hail Mary). I did media monitoring work for most of today, earning plaudits from my immediate supervisors. It was fun; Summit 4's Kyle and I set up a table and cruised the Internet, stopping to note down stories (Connecticut Lighting & Power has an estimate for when power should be restored! Governor Malloy made a statement!) and forward them up the chain. The day honestly flew by.

 Now, Summit 5 is moving on again, this time to New York. I have no idea when we're leaving, where we're going exactly or what we'll be doing. Future FEMA Corps Members take note: when they say FEMA Flexible, they mean FEMA Flexible. For now, we're keeping our bags in the van and a change of clothes in our backpacks, and getting ready for yet another highway jaunt to parts unknown. I wouldn't have it any other way. Summit Five, WE RIDE!

*The rationale for not posting our destination before coming here was that people in as-yet-undeclared counties might erroneously think they'd gotten a disaster declaration. However, four of Connecticut's six counties (although not ours) have been declared already, and the presence or absence of FEMA Corps in a county doesn't mean anything declaration-wise, hence this sentence.


Nick H said...

I don't know how you do it, but thanks for keeping all of us FEMA Corps members informed. You are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

FYI: Counties are deginated..not declared. A state gets a declaration that designats which counties get what types of assistance.

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