Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fargo Floods: March 28 - 31

Events of March 28 - 31, 2009

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

Disaster: Red River Flooding

One day is beginning to blend into another. Heck, when you're working the night shift, you don't even KNOW when it is day and when it's night. Everything is mixed up and upside down and out of whack. I don't even know what day it is anymore....Tuesday? Wednesday? Shoot...I give up.

However - I actually think I am now beginning to - God forbid - adjust to this schedule. Today, I miraculously got a whole 5 hours sleep - uninterrupted. I am very happy with 5 hours...that is a good thing.

My team made an observation the other day that we are all appearing to lose weight. We sit down one night (oops - I mean morning - it was 4:30 am, after all!) and we talk about when one is supposed to eat while working night shifts.

So, we sit down and begin trying to figure this out...Our observations...we "wake up" to go to work around 6:30 pm... and work begins at 10:30 pm. So, somewhere in there, we should be eating...dinner? Breakfast? What do you call it? Not sure. Anyway, we are at work from 10:30 pm until 7:00 am. We don't eat, because there's nothing but snacks & junk food for the clients during the middle of the night, and we're all trying to stay away from the junk.... We get off at 7:00 am and head back to the hotel - where, just maybe, we'll grab a granola bar or something. Then, around 11:00 am, we're all settling down in our hotel rooms for some attempted shut-eye.

As my team was trying to figure out why we're all losing weight - it hits us - we've eliminated "lunch!" Our lunch should be some time in the middle of our work shift - maybe around 3:00 am....? Well, who the heck wants to eat at 3:00 am????!!! For the last week, we've all eliminated an entire meal here - duh. No wonder we're all looking a little gaunt. On Tuesday night, I went out with Ted before our shift to grab a hot meal for dinner. It was the first meal I've had in a week that didn't come in a package, wrapper or box.

My work here at the shelter is becoming pretty routine...I'm in the groove, so to speak. I check on my clients - I walk around, assessing the needs of the people, making sure they have everything they need to be comfortable. I guess I am what you'd call the "Midnight Mom." I have tucked people in, cleaned up puke (an 11-year old boy ate too much of that junk food!), felt someone's forehead checking for a fever, assisted an elderly lady to the restroom...all that "mom" stuff. And then there's the paperwork - lots of reports and "counts" and bed checks that have to be filled in.

I like to go around and talk with the clients. The stress is getting they've not seen their flooded houses in over a week, and they really want to go check on the damage. So, some listening and talking and hugging becomes part of the job. I've learned some neat things - such as, if I put pepper between my toes, it will keep me warm. Huh. I don't know if I'll actually try it, but it's good to know.

My team is excellent. I have Evie sitting at registration, manning the front door. I've got Ted at information, reconciling bed counts and doing some of my paperwork. (He's a retired accountant - it's a perfect position for him!) I've got Mike managing the floor - checking trash, moving furniture, keeping the cot area clean and organized. I've got Lee over in the kitchen - keeping the coffee fresh for all of the state troopers and firemen who come in at all hours after working on the levees. And I watch over them all and make sure they all have what they need to do their job.

I'm beginning to sleeping is getting better, I'm on a first-name basis with my clients - heck, I'm even dreaming about the levees. And a foot of snow that came yesterday doesn't even register on my Richter scale. I've become a true Minnesotan.

A photo of the work on the levees during the blizzard yesterday

So goes life managing an emergency Red Cross shelter during a disaster. And on the night shift, no less.

Now - it's 1:05 am...almost time for me to start thinking about what I'm going to have for lunch. Yummo.


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