Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

There's an oft-repeated expression, "the calm before the storm...."

I'd like to meet whomever coined this particular phrase, because I'd like to think they must have been completely off their rocker. In my experience...there is no "calm" before the storm...nope.

A more appropriate expression would be, "the chaos before the storm."

Hurricane Isaac is playing Jedi mind tricks with us, as it zigs and zags in the Caribbean...will it go east? West? Will it get worse? In the meantime, while Isaac makes up his mind on his path, those of us who are possibly in his path are left to scramble and prepare.

Yesterday was spent in such preparation....

The "head honchos" at the American Red Cross headquarters here in Tampa spent the day in-processing hundreds of more volunteers...all the while trying to determine exactly where the most ideal placement of shelters will be. It won't make much sense to open a shelter in Tampa if the storm moves west and heads out to sea.... The Tampa ARC office is pretty small, and having hundreds of people filing in and out all day was extremely chaotic.

The residents here in southern Florida spent the day shopping...loading up with bottled water, canned meat, batteries, well as topping off their gas tanks. This created chaos at the grocery stores and gas stations, as you can imagine. Lines to check out were dozens deep...patience was required.

What did I do? the morning, I joined the thousands of other residents at those grocery stores...making sure my own personal supplies were well-stocked. Batteries? Check. Fruit? Check. Chocolate? Check. I also managed to snag a little $3.99 travel pillow which I was quite proud's a pretty sure bet that last night was probably my last night in a "comfortable" motel room, as it will be cots and shelters from here on out. A little pillow will sure bring some comfort.

I also picked up a few last-minute office supplies to make my life easier as a Shelter Manager...index cards...Sharpie pads...and file folders. Hey. If you know me, you know I'm all about organization - so there was a bit of "comfort" in buying those little things that will help me stay focused.

Then, time was spent meeting with my Shelter Team to insure that everyone knows their assigned roles once we open...a typical ARC shelter will have several positions: a Dorm Supervisor, a Kitchen Supervisor, a Registration Supervisor, and a Logistics (Supply) Supervisor. There's also a nurse, as well as a licensed mental health counselor. I've got all my positions assigned, and trained...they're ready to go. That's comforting.

Some time was spent in dealing with the rumor mill. It's inevitable that in times of impending disaster, people will latch onto whatever piece of information they may overhear - whether it's true or not. It can be dangerous to believe everything that is heard without getting confirmation first, and this came into play yesterday. My pet peeve is the "Well, somebody said...blah blah blah." My response is always, "Who is 'somebody?' - because whomever this 'somebody' is - they sure do talk a lot. And most of it is baloney.

Perhaps that's what the "calm" is all about, in the "calm" before the in, stay calm. Don't lose your head. Do things to prepare. Wait for instructions from the authorities (or Headquarters, in this case). Be smart.

So. That's what I'm doing.

The calm before the storm....



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