There are some days that are just...different. Crazy. Insane. Bizarre. Rewarding. Scary.
Oh - did I mention awesome?
Today was one of those days....
My day begins with a Public Affairs meeting/teleconference at 8:00 am. Different counties within Colorado quickly check in with reports as to what is going on across the state. We learn that Vice-President Joe Biden may possibly be visiting the affected areas on Monday, and we begin planning our course of action of how to deal with this potential media frenzy. EEP!
We no sooner end that meeting when we rush to the all-staff meeting at 8:30 – and because of the large contingent of volunteers now in Denver, our “meeting” is held in the parking garage of the hotel we are using for Headquarters. That's certainly a new one. I've met in a lot of places - but NEVER in a multi-story parking garage. Felt a bit "Seinfeld-ish." After the usual reports from various areas, we are warned of the hazardous materials that are floating in the standing waters, and are told to be careful. EEP!
That meeting finishes up at 9:00 am, so I then rush to Orientation, required for all newly arriving volunteers, no matter how long they've been with the Red Cross, where I quickly learn more about the region and the culture. We’re also warned of dehydration, altitude sickness, brown recluse spiders, and rattlesnakes. EEP!
After this, I rush back down to my department, where my boss quickly goes over the assignments for the Public Affairs crew. I will be paired up with Allen, a volunteer out of Santa Cruz, California. We are told to head up north to Longmont, to “chase” ERV’s, who will be distributing clean-up items to affected households. I need to get stories, get photos, and get information – measure the “pulse” of the community, so to speak. This does not get an EEP, as this is a good thing, and I'm excited to get to work.
Running into Lloyd, as he delivers supplies...I met Lloyd originally a year ago in Tampa, and we've been buds ever since....
Initially, Allen and I head to the warehouse, so we can meet briefly with the ERV coordinator and get the names and telephone numbers of the ERV’s who are heading to Longmont. After checking in and talking with some old friends, we begin the long trek northwards, where we meet some of the residents, hear their stories, and take some photos. Not everyone we meet will become a story – or a photo – and that’s just fine. Some just want to talk, but don’t necessarily want to be quoted – or photographed. Part of our job is being sensitive to people’s feelings and needs.
THE BEST PART OF MY JOB - THE CHILDREN!!!!! EEP!!!!
At some point, we come across a severely damaged motor home park, which is being heavily guarded from looting by the Colorado National Guard. We stop and talk with them, who tell us that the residents there are in dire need of clean-up supplies. A quick phone call is made to one of the ERV crews, and within two minutes, we’ve got clean-up kits arriving on the scene and being distributed. This is when my job is rewarding – getting results, and getting them fast.
We leave the motor home park, and while sitting at a stop light, feel a sudden jolt from behind. Although we were warned of rattlesnakes, we weren't warned of rattled residents. A lady, who has lost her trailer home to the flooding, has accidentally rammed into us with her monster truck, and after exchanging information, and reassuring her that it was an accident and no one was hurt (other than our poor little car), we begin the trek back to Headquarters. EEP!
Time is then spent writing up the articles and editing the photos that we’ve taken, so that we can get them submitted to our boss by our deadline. In the meantime, Red Cross calls and tells us that we’ve been reassigned to a new – and improved – hotel for the night (as the previous night, we were sleeping in a staff shelter at a horse barn/rodeo events arena. In hay. With the animals). So – a quick detour to grab our luggage, so that we can – at some time – head to Aurora, and our new lodging – after putting in a 12-hour plus day. EEP!
Is it any wonder that exhaustion sets in? And it’s only my first day?