Monday, September 8, 2008

Quick Update From New Orleans

I’m sure everyone’s been wondering when I was going to post about my current deployment to New Orleans in response to Hurricane Gustav. It's going to have to be in bits and pieces, but here it is.

Those who know me know that I “moonlight” occasionally as a Disaster Housing Inspector contracted to FEMA through PaRR Inspections. I’ve been involved in Disaster Relief since 2002 when my sons and I went to WV to volunteer with the Salvation Army for a few days after severe flooding wiped out whole communities.

While there we met a number of inspectors who were contracted to FEMA and decided that we’d like to do that as well. My oldest son and I checked in to that and ended up driving to E. Syracuse, NY for training. Since that time I’ve been deployed to New Orleans 3 times (2003, 2005 – Katrina, and 2008 – Gustav), Baltimore (2004), and Puerto Rico (2004).

As a Disaster Housing Inspector my function is to go out and verify whether or not the applicant has damages that are disaster related and record them for FEMA. Long hours, little sleep, 7 days a week, mentally and at times physically challenging. If you like to help other people and don't mind being out of your comfort zone, then this job is for you! :-)

I've hooked up with three other inspectors whom I met when we first got to Dallas on the first. We're all sharing a room here in Kenner (a New Orleans suburb). Let me introduce you:

Meet Barb from Spokane, Washington. She’s been with PaRR for a long time and has a very interesting background. She’s got a bunch of kids, a passel of grandkids, and her stories remind me of things that I have done or would do. In her spare time she fights to promote safety and fair laws for taxi drivers.

David...a new inspector, from Albuquerque, NM. He’s one of the few real gentleman that you run into (polite, opens the doors for you, protective of women, and makes it obvious that he’s happily married and not interested in anyone else). He’s been a great addition to our happy little group.

and Evelyn from...I don't remember... LOL! Evelyn is also a new inspector…and she’s a hoot! I had an opportunity to spend some time talking with her on a deeper level one night, and realized that she’s like an onion…there are lots of layers filled with great things inside. And there’s never a dull moment with her around, She’s got a heart of gold.

It's been nice having a team of people to hang out with (aka work until 12 -1 AM with and know you aren't the only person working at that time of night/morning). We haven't even had any issues with getting on each other's nerves (too much) or in each other's way! That's pretty good with only one bathroom for the four of us.

Out of time, more later...

No comments: