Friday, November 30, 2012

Trapped in New Jersey

Today is the official end of hurricane season, and I'm very thankful to have been home from Hurricane Sandy for the last 16 days....

...However, according to official reports out of the American Red Cross, apparently I'm NOT home...and haven't been...since November 3rd. Yes, according to computer records, I'm still on the job in New Jersey....


This story actually begins before this...I had been working diligently in New Jersey for about 10 days, when I heard from Staffing at HQ that I wasn't really officially "on the job." Yup - they didn't have any record of me being in New Jersey...their records showed that I was still in Baltimore.

Tell that to the 7" stack of paper sitting in my in-box that I had been methodically whittling away at for the past 10 days.

I was scheduled to go home in two more days, so I mentioned to my manager that she might want to see about fixing things - because if I wasn't actually IN New Jersey, would I be able to actually go HOME from New Jersey....???

Apparently, she got things fixed, as I was able to out-process on November 13th, and I flew home the next day...back to good old, dependable Kansas City....

End of story, right?


Two days ago, I got an email from someone within the Red Cross, who says, "You're home, right?"

Looking around at my own bed, in my own home, while my fur babies romped happily at my feet, I replied, "Yup. Pretty sure I am. Been home since the 14th. Why?"

"Because according to HQ, you're still in New Jersey. They don't show you as ever going home."

Well. I guess my manager fixed the problem of me not being in New Jersey...apparently, I've now taken up full-time residence there.

I was by now beating my head against the wall.

Really? Really? First, you don't even have me there to begin with, and now you don't have me going home??!

So...I am now trying to get this little error resolved, via long-distance, and hasn't it been fun?


I had been trying - without any success - to redeploy for a second stint to New Jersey, and wondered why it wasn't happening. Well - this explains it. I can't re-deploy to some place that I apparently never left to begin with....

I guess I'll enjoy my time in New Jersey...I gotta' admit, the traffic is certainly better this time around; the sleeping accommodations are awesome; and I've never been able to be surrounded by friends and family before while on a deployment.

I could get spoiled.



Sunday, November 25, 2012


Random musings on a Sunday evening....

*Thanksgiving was, as usual, quite wonderful...we spent the day at my parents' house, where we enjoyed a delicious and satisfying dinner. My aunt & uncle from Virginia were in town, and as I hadn't seen them in three years, it was very special catching up. I had made a delicious cranberry salad, using a recipe I got off of Pinterest, and it was quite tasty. Hubby said later that it was his favorite part of the meal - and either he's telling the truth, or he's brown-nosing because Christmas is coming!

Yummy! And easy...MY kind of recipe!

*That evening, we had friends and family over for our annual Thanksgiving Dessert Party, where everyone is asked to bring their favorite dessert. My counter top looked like a Pumpkin Fiesta, as we were overloaded with every thing imaginable made with pumpkin - bread, muffins, pies, cheesecakes - and my specialty, Pumpkin Lust. Yum.

*We enjoyed watching Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" on PBS last week...very enlightening, and very I told my parents, the Dust Bowl period was somewhat glossed over in history class, as it seemed the Depression got all of the attention during that time period. The perseverance of the people affected by this ecological disaster was amazing.

*We took the kids to "Batman Live" on Friday night...a lights, sound and visual extravaganza. Somewhat corny, but still entertaining....All the classic villains were represented: The Penguin, the Riddler, as well as the Joker...and the Joker was fantastic.

Dick Grayson and the Joker....

I wore black jeans, my black boots, and my favorite black leather jacket...with a batman mask on, I was instantly transformed into Catwoman, and got quite a few smiles and giggles from kids walking around the arena. As well as a few laughs from parents, as well.


*Last evening, Hubby and I headed to the movies, and saw "Lincoln". We sat in a sold-out, crowded theater - and was instantly spellbound, along with everyone else, by Daniel Day Lewis's riveting performance. He'll be nominated for an Oscar, for sure, and if he doesn't win, I'll be shocked. Tommy Lee Jones is also amazing, and should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, IMO.

*I'm about 30% done with my Christmas shopping, and 100% of it has been done in my own home, while wearing my comfy PJ's, while sipping Chai Tea. I love, love, love online shopping - and I wonder how I ever survived Christmas shopping before...??

*The kitten that befriended us last June has now gone off to college with my oldest son...Son has his own apartment, and the kitten needed a home where there WEREN'T two other cats around...He's only been gone 24 hours, and I miss him already. The cat, that is. Not my son. Hee hee.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend in Review: Goats, Grinders & The Boss

Thank God it's Monday.


And thank God I'm home.

I flew home Wednesday evening from New Jersey, and hit the ground running, so I haven't had much time to decompress a bit from working Hurricane Sandy...but that's okay...all I know is, I worked my butt off, and I met some amazing people (again), and reconnected with some other amazing people.

Thursday was spent dealing with piles...piles of laundry, piles of mail, piles of chores and errands - all that stuff that lets me know I'm needed just as much at home as I'm needed with the American Red Cross. I wouldn't have it any other way.

That evening, 13-year old daughter gave a resounding performance at her school's fall music concert...we managed to snag front-row seats, where we enjoyed the school orchestra, band and choir.

Bravo, kids!

Friday, Hubby and I headed into the big city, where we first enjoyed a delicious tapas dinner at Extra Virgin, a hip restaurant that is quite the happenin' place on a Friday night. There, we nibbled on delicious plates of cheese, prosciutto, and goat.

Yes. Goat.

After dinner, we headed over to the Kauffman Center of Performing Arts, where we watched a resounding performance of "Tap Dogs." Six guys...twelve feet...throw in water, basketballs, flashlights, grinders, and percussion - and you get the Blue Man Group, mixed with a bit of Cirque de Soleil, with tap dancing. Surreal...but very entertaining.

Saturday evening was spent with The Boss, as in Bruce Springsteen. First, though, we headed down to Kansas City Power and Light, where we met up with friends of Hubby's for a quick drink and dinner. The P&L was CRAZY insane, but it was fun to meet some of Hubby's friends from his past....great times, for sure.

We then walked over to the Sprint Center, where we joined thousands of other enthusiastic concert-goers for a 3-hour rockfest with Bruce.

Self-portrait while waiting for the show to begin...

Bruce was high-energy and passion...never a dull moment, and we had a rollicking good time, dancing and singing and enjoying a GREAT evening. This picture pretty much sums it all up:

Sunday afternoon was spent celebrating our granddaughter's 12th birthday...

...although there's only eight candles on the cake. Maybe she won't notice....

In between our celebrations and concerts and shows, we managed to put up the Christmas tree, go to church, do a bit of Christmas shopping, and spend time with 23-year old son, who came home from graduate school for the Thanksgiving holiday.


So no WONDER I'm grateful for Mondays...where I can perhaps slow down a tad....

...or perhaps not.

Me? Slow down?




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Tree Catnip


Bad juju will follow anyone if they dare mess with the Thanksgiving gods....

Trust me.

I know from experience.

For the first time, like, EVER, I attempted to get a "jump" on the holidays by sneakily putting up my Christmas tree this weekend.

I's not even Thanksgiving yet, but hey - I'm crazy busy, and I may not even BE here next weekend to put up the tree - so I justified it in my head and drug out the tree and the decorations and had Hubby set to work.

Don't judge me.

The first hint of bad juju began after Hubby assembled the tree...I was standing next to it, puzzling over the fact that it looked...short. REALLY short.

"Something's wrong," I began....and Hubby, always a bit defensive with his Christmas-tree assembling skills, immediately tried to cut me off in whatever criticism I was about to lay on him.

"WHAT??!" he said...."There's NOTHING wrong! It's perfect!"

"It just seems...short," I continued. "Normally, I need a stepladder to reach the top - and yet...this year, the tree is rather...stumpy."

That's when Hubby realized he had totally forgotten the bottom section of the tree. Chagrined, he went off in search of the missing piece, and didn't we have fun trying to get all the pieces reconnected afterwards. Not.

After all the pieces were assembled, the second bit of bad juju hit...when Hubby plugged in the various cords, and we were greeted by the grand and glorious sight of...darkness.

Apparently, our pre-lit tree decided to be temperamental, and about half the lights stubbornly refused to turn on. We were faced with a blackout covering the square footage of approximately New York City, and now had the daunting task of trying to figure out how to turn the freakin' lights on.


While we were both engrossed in the task of checking Every. Single. Light. Bulb. on the tree, our 8-month old kitten/cat came sauntering up from the basement to see what trouble he could get into we were doing....

Anyone wanting a cat? This one's looking for a good home...

He took one look at the assembled Christmas tree, and with a yelp of delight that sounded suspiciously like, "COWABUNGA, DUDE!!!", he launched himself into the mass of pine needles and light cords.

He was in a Disney World of Cat Heaven, slithering and jumping from branch to branch, while Hubby and I were screaming and yelling, "GET OUT OF THERE, YOU LITTLE SH*T!!!", all the while trying to grab him whenever a glimpse of grey fur came near.

Strangely enough, at some point, all his wiggling and wriggling and slithering jiggled just enough light cords that miraculously, caused half of the darkened lights to suddenly begin blazing in their full glory...which, although somewhat tempered Hubby and I from chasing him, by no means lessened the danger that this cat was creating in his frenzied joy of exploring the tree. He still needed to get out before he toppled the tree, or electrocuted himself, whichever disaster decided to come first. I was voting for electrocution at this point, as that would save me the trouble of killing him myself.

About the time we finally managed to get the mangy furball out of the tree, the cat decided that my carefully arranged piles of decorations on the floor were the indoor equivalent of piles of leaves, and he then launched himself from pile to pile, delighting in the mess he was leaving behind.


Hubby eventually caught the cat, and carrying him by the scruff of his neck, he was banished to the basement, with a decidedly dejected look of, "What? Me? What did I do now???"


Two hours and two trips to the store later to buy supplemental lights, the tree was finally ready for decorating...which didn't happen until today. entire weekend wasted dedicated to decorating the tree, just so I could get a "jump" on Christmas.

Take it from NOT put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving gods don't like it.

Bad juju, I'm tellin' you.



Image from HERE

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Last Night in Jersey

I'm going home!

After nineteen long, grueling, stressful days of working disaster relief as a result of Hurricane Sandy, I FINALLY am able to head home. Tomorrow. I am counting the hours.

The last few days have been especially crazy busy - in between the 10-hour days spent at Headquarters in North Brunswick, New Jersey - I've changed hotels, gotten lost numerous times on the complicated road system that is unique to New Jersey, and managed to work through the mountain of piles of paperwork on my desk enough to feel that I'm leaving my desk in good shape.


Our motel move came suddenly - as we got word that we were soon to lose our room in Princeton - so after a hurrid packing one morning, and a long drive about forty miles north to Branchburg - my roommate and I managed to snag the second-to-last room at the new motel, and I am happily ensconsed on the sofa bed as we speak.

With regards to getting lost on the highways, I have to say that I have NEVER dealt with traffic as congested as I've seen it here...and I swear until I die, that I will NEVER complain about Kansas City traffic again. Every single morning and evening, my commute is a bumper-to-bumper slow crawl through a nightmare of rude drivers, traffic accidents, and maneuvering the complicated "left turn - but it's really NOT a left turn" - that makes up Jersey.


I made my flight arrangements this afternoon, and after a brief stop in Atlanta, I'll be winging it back to the the the mountains of paperwork and laundry and housework that is sure to be waiting for me...

...and yet...I don't mind.

I'll be in my own bed, in my own town, and it will feel so, so good.


Yes, please.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Getting My Glow Back

Today was my day off - the first, and perhaps only day off for this disaster operation - and my plan was to sleep in, live in my pajamas, and curl up with a book.


So much for the best-laid plans.

Having a roommate who does NOT have the day off, somewhat negates the plans of sleeping in...I awoke early and drowsily watched, as Lee rushed around a darkened room trying to get ready.

"You can turn a light on," I said..."I'm already awake."

She was determined to be polite, though, bless her heart, and soon she was out the door, leaving me in a quiet, dark room. This should have been blissful, but then a sense of guilt kicked in...thoughts of, "You shouldn't be lying around - how sloth-like!" as well as, "Maybe you should just go on into work...who needs a day off, anyway?" began invading my head...gah.

Not one to lay around, I decided I had to do something...ANYTHING - to keep busy, when suddenly, a brilliant inspiration hit me -


Perusing the internet on my iPad, I located a spa not more than 15 minutes from here that seemed to have positive reviews, and I quickly called and made a noon appointment for a facial, followed by a manicure. I figured my face and hands show the most damage from these long, feverish days, and they needed the most attention. It would be a small miracle if the beauticians could wipe out the dark circles invading my eyes, but it was a risk I was willing to take. And my hands....? Gah. Typing non-stop on a keyboard all day at work, as well as digging through a suitcase each day for clothes & personal items, have left my fingers & nails in a state of disaster themselves. Things were getting dire, and today was the perfect day to somewhat attempt re-beautification.

Right before I left, though, another attack of the "guilts" hit..."What you are DOING???", the voice said..."Even THINKING of going to a spa while working a disaster relief operation????"

However, a posting from a friend on Facebook alleviated most of my guilt, when she said, "Look at it this way...Red Cross 'lights' the way for victims of disaster. You are that light. Like any good flashlight, you only work as well as the batteries that power it. So, charge away, little light! Tomorrow you will glow."

Wow. Mary had nailed it. And so - off I went.

Arriving at Amber Spa, a quaint little place in the small town of Pennington, New Jersey, I was quickly ushered in and before I knew it, I was lying on a warmed bed while soft, soothing hands began massaging my tension and stress away. I closed my eyes, listened to the relaxing music, and forced my mind to just "float" and focus on the moment....

My 75-minute facial stretched into 90 minutes, with a bonus head, neck, and shoulder massage - followed by a hand & foot massage.


Afterwards, I was ushered in and seated for a manicure...and while my nails were getting their much-needed attention, a hairdresser took one look at my wild & crazy hair - which now resembled something that only a Muppet would be caught wearing - and offered me a complimentary shampoo and blow-dry.

Oh. My. God.

Is there a Heaven beyond Heaven??!!

Because....I was so there.

The ladies told me of their Hurricane Sandy lady is STILL without power, but as she put it, "At least I still have a house. Albeit a COLD house...but I can't imagine losing everything, like some people did."

Thousands of questions about the Red Cross - what we do, how we do it, etc - were thrown at me, and before I left for the afternoon, they were thanking me profusely and wishing me well. I thanked THEM for making me feel human again. Their service was IMPECCABLE. As I told them when I left the shop, "I hope I'm never back in this area again with the Red Cross...for YOUR sake...but if I AM...I will SO come back to the Amber Spa!!"

So...Amber were AWESOME. I walked out of there a new woman - positively glowing, and feeling 25 years younger.

The icing on the cake? As I stopped briefly at the hotel registration desk later this afternoon to check for messages, the lady behind the counter said, "Your hair looks AWESOME!"

Why, yes. Yes it does.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From Terrible to Terrific

"You look terrible."

In a normal situation, I'd be insulted after hearing that said to me.

However, after working the last twelve days non-stop for Hurricane Sandy, I've realized that times are definitely NOT normal - and my friend was right.

I look terrible.

Each morning, as I drag myself out of bed to get ready for another long day at work, I'm greeted by a raccoon in the mirror...the dark circles under my eyes are turning blacker and blacker as the days grind on, and no amount of concealer is covering the shadows.

I look terrible.

We've known for several days now that a winter storm - or, a "nor'easter", if I use proper New England terminology, was heading our way and expected to arrive this afternoon. I repeat...we've known for days.

And yet, today I was SLAMMED with an onslaught of requests from just about all 41 shelters in the state of New Jersey, begging for emergency supplies to ride out the storm...extra cots...extra blankets...extra flashlights...extra food and water....

We're talking over 600,000 people still without power, so the amounts requested were rather large...and so I was frantically trying to get the orders sent out as fast as they were coming in...with one eye watching the window so I could see when the storm arrived.

It arrived in full earnest about 3:00 pm, and the leadership told everyone to start wrapping it up and heading out, so we'd be home and sheltering in place before it got too dark and too dangerous.

What followed was a quite thorough appreciation of the New Jersey highway system, as it took a frustrating 90 minutes to travel a measly 16 miles...GAH. Crawling...a few inches at a time...I listened to music, watched the snow whipping through the clouds, and stared at the red tailights in front of me...for sixteen long miles and 90 long minutes.

Riding out a blizzard in a motel is quite fun, as you can hang out in the restaurant with dozens of other volunteers/friends, and tell war stories...there's not much else to do, as we've lost the cable television in our room, so we're deciding whether an American Red Cross snowball fight is in order, or if we should just make snow angels. For some of these volunteers, who've traveled from all over the country, it's their first time at seeing it's been rather fun seeing their reactions.

As for me, after hearing how terrible I looked, the only thing I wanted to do was to crawl up to my room, put on my jammies, blog...and then head to bed.

I plan on sleeping in, and enjoying my day off tomorrow. Snowed in can be quite fun, and I plan on making the most of resting up.

I'll feel terrific.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Typical Day....

So, I've been offline for a few days...there's a good reason for that...

I'm exhausted.

My typical day begins with leaving the hotel at 7:00 am, and fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic on US 1 Highway....and sorry, New Jersey, but your "no left turns from the left lane" policy sucks.

After a 16-mile commute, I hit the ground running - checking for emailed requests for supplies, entering orders into the computer, and running around like crazy at HQ, finding or seeking the information that I need to do my job. It's frustrating, sometimes, because I feel that for every step forward I take, I take two steps back... there's constant interruptions, and everything is a priority.

Lunch is usually provided for us, so we can avoid taking time off to go get it ourselves. A styrofoam clamshell will sit beside my laptop, as I work and eat at the same time...which does wonders for my digestion.

Meetings, phone calls, requests, conferences - it never ends. My fingers fly across the computer keyboard as the day speeds along, and I stop every so often to stand up, stretch my back out a bit, and then start all over again.

A typical staff meeting....

Soon, darkness creeps in through the window by my workspace, and after twelve hours, it's time to call it a day and head home....

There...I collapse.

I'll call home, check on the family, put on my pajamas, and head to bed. Drained. Exhausted. And sometimes unable to sleep, as my brain rushes through images of everything I still have to accomplish the next day.

Here's the good news, though...after working non-stop for 12 straight days, I get to have a day off on Thursday. That will be my 13th day on the operation...and I plan on staying in my pajamas all day and get reacquainted with my Kindle.

Before then, though, a new storm is heading our way, so time was spent the last two days insuring that I'm prepared to ride it out. Extra bottled water, snacks, heater meals and blankets are safely stashed now in the motel room, as well as flashlights and warm clothing. Before I head off to work tomorrow, I have my boots, ice scraper and gloves ready to go - as temperatures are plunging and the winds are expected to pick up. Snow, icy rain, and 50+ mph wind gusts are forecast, and knowing that I'm here because of a HURRICANE - and I'm now in long underwear - is rather ironic.

The other good news is that the insanely-long gas lines are non-existant, now. I was able to pull right in last night and top off my tank, in preparation for the storm. However - New Jersey doesn't allow you to pump your own gas, which was a whole new experience for me. That was certainly weird.

Over 5,000 American Red Cross volunteers are deployed for Hurricane Sandy, making it one of the biggest disasters, in terms of logistics, for us. I'm just one small cog in the wheel, doing my part, and when I think of all of the other volunteers who left their family and homes to be here, it makes my heart proud to be part of not only this organization, but also this country.

So...I'm heading off to dreamland now...hopefully, we won't lose power in the next few days, as I'm really, really getting tired of this...and I can't help but be worried about everyone else who might lose power in this sub-freezing temperatures.

Prayers are needed, my friends.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Night Ramblings from Somewhere in New Jersey

I'm eight days in now on this Disaster Response, and I'm to the point where I don't know what day it is - or for that matter, what state I'm in....

I left Maryland this morning with the intent to drive to New York...however, about midway there, I got orders to head to New Brunswick, New Jersey, instead. Flexibility and patience and a good sense of humor are extremely necessary when volunteering with the American Red Cross. So - to New Jersey, I went.

Being the smart person that I am, I topped off my gas tank at the very last exit in Delaware, and it's a good thing, as I was shocked when I came across my first "gas line." Wow. It's one thing to see it on CNN, but to see it in person? Miles of cars, parked along the side of the road, waiting forever to pull into the gas station... sometimes with a cop or two for traffic and temper control. Unbelievable.

I managed to make it to NJ with 3/4 of a tank still left, so I think I'm good for a few days...although HQ put me in a hotel about 17 miles from HQ, which makes for a long drive. And when gas is short - long drives are scary. Speaking of hotels, I'm in the EXACT same hotel I was in a year ago for Hurricane Irene - when I worked in Princeton, NJ...deja vu, huh? The hotel JUST got power as of 5:30 pm this afternoon, so I had incredible I didn't fancy taking another cold shower or dressing by flashlight.

Arriving at HQ, I was quickly put to work in Logistics again...although our internet here is hit or miss, so it was difficult getting my work done. I think people don't understand that we are affected by adverse conditions, as well...they don't realize that we can't always meet their needs with food or shelter, when we're working with no power, or no gas, or no water, as well. We don't have magic wands that we wave that makes everything all patience, again, is a virtue. We're doing the best we can with the limited resources we have....

The other day, while watching a piece on CNN, I heard the Staten Island mayor mention the "big salaries" that American Red Cross people get. After picking myself up from the floor after laughing so hard, I was then a little ticked. Over 90% of the responders on a disaster are volunteers - I have yet to make one DIME in the seven years I've been doing this. Not that I deserve a golden halo - or a super hero badge - but I leave my comfortable bed, home and family - travel to adverse conditions - sometimes sleeping on a cold cot or the floor - working twelve hour days - dealing with HUGE issues and problems - for up to three weeks - and I do this for NOTHING. Because I want to make a difference in the lives of people affected by a disaster. Big salary, indeed.

Here in NJ, I'm dealing with downed power lines...intermittent gas...few restaurants or amenities...sharing a room with a stranger...and I'm okay with that. I do what I have to do.

It's been a long day...and the next two weeks are going to be tough...for everyone involved.



Friday, November 2, 2012

New York, New York

Start spreading the news...

Thought I was being re-deployed to New Jersey today for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Found out I'm heading to New York tomorrow instead.


I get to New York City.

I am so thrilled.


I am so a little bit apprehensive.


This "small-town" girl - who doesn't necessarily like to drive in the "big city" of Kansas City - is so NOT looking forward to driving to New York tomorrow.

Not knowing the roads...not knowing the road closures due to the storm...not knowing if I'll even have enough gasoline for my little car...

This is going to be fun, fun, fun.


I keep telling myself that I recently drove from Kansas City to Florida - by myself - so this 5-hour drive should be a piece of cake...right?

I guess we'll see...cuz if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere...or so the song says, anyway....


P.S. If you haven't figured it out, I didn't bring my laptop on this deployment...I'm typing my blog posts on an iPad...and I am not tech savvy enough to post/upload blog will be a little picture-shy until I get back home, which will be in about two weeks....


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Visit With the Senator

"It doesn't matter where you come from. This is the United States of America and it has to be neighbor helping neighbor. Your government is on your side and is grateful."

--U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

While working at HQ today, it became very evident that a "big shot" had just walked in. An entourage of people, along with a television camera, made a dramatic entrance....I looked up to see what the hubbub was about, and noticed a little tiny, petite woman, surrounded by all sorts of aides in suits.

It was U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving female in Congressional history - and she was visiting Headquarters in Baltimore today.

I figured she would breeze in, do a cursory glance around, and then breeze out...but boy - was I ever wrong.

Senator Mikulski shook EVERY SINGLE PERSON'S hand in HQ today...and not only asked where we were from, but then thanked us for our volunteerism and service. She asked questions - "What are you doing?", or "How can we help you?" - and she actually REALLY listened.

I was impressed.

Our operations in Maryland and Delaware are winding down...the flood waters are receding, and the decision was made to send some volunteers, including myself, up north. Some are heading to New York, and some are heading to New Jersey.

I not only have family in NJ, but I also served there last year during Hurricane Irene - so I was hoping and praying I'd get marching orders for the Garden State, as I know the geography more than I know New York. My wishes came true, and in the morning, I'll be making the 3-hour drive north to Somerset, NJ to report to Headquarters there.

Conditions will be a bit more brutal...I'll be surprised if I end up in a motel, so I have a sleeping bag and air mattress on the ready, along with a pillow and blanket. Staff shelters - with sometimes hundreds of volunteers sleeping on cots 18" apart - are a necessary evil of a large-scale disaster. In Hattiesburg last month, for Hurricane Isaac, we had 250 people in a shelter with TWO showers. Fun times, fun times.

I'll be working at HQ again in Logistics, helping with Supply, Procurement or Transportation. Trying to supply thousands of volunteers will be a huge responsibility, and I've heard they're desperate for help. Twelve-hour days will be the norm, I'm sure.

In an "ideal" disaster deployment, an ARC volunteer can expect to have a day off after seven days on the job. Tomorrow is my 7th day, and I doubt I'll be seeing a day off for quite awhile - but that's the nature of the beast. I'm just trying to eat somewhat healthy, and rest when I can - and I know that my discomfort and exhaustion is temporary...and I keep that in mind when I feel like complaining. The residents affected by Hurricane Sandy aren't looking at "temporary" discomfort - some are looking at years of I keep my mouth shut and carry on.

Tonight, it's with a bit of uncertainty that I sign off...will I have power tomorrow, so I can post? Who knows.... Will I have gas, so I can get to where I need to be in my rental car? I guess only time will tell....

Until then -


Some facts:

*More than 7,000 people spent Wednesday night in 115 Red Cross shelters in 9 states.

*The Red Cross has served nearly 164,000 meals since the storm hit on Monday night.

*3,300 disaster workers have been deployed from all over the country.

*More than two-thirds of the ENTIRE Red Cross fleet are in the field for Hurricane Sandy...beginning to distribute meals, water and snacks in hard hit areas.