Disaster Diaries Part Two: On the Ground in West Virginia

American Red Cross volunteers and staff have been working to distribute cleaning supplies, food and water to those affected by the floods. Jim Sheely, a volunteer from Charlotte, N.C., describes his deployment and the Red Cross’ efforts in West Virginia in part two of his disaster diaries:

    I’m sitting in a Bob Evans restaurant having dinner and getting a lesson in West Virginia culture. Up here, chicken and dumplings on a mound of mashed potatoes seems to be a real favorite. Not much fried chicken to be found, though. I’ll be making a pilgrimage to the Chicken Coop soon after I get home.

    Headquarters is still busy. Another group of caseworkers is coming in. A staff shelter is being opened because the few hotel accommodations the Red Cross has in Logan have to be vacated due to prior reservations. The staff shelter will be in the local High School gym and will house caseworkers, ERV crews and kitchen staff. They are using other areas of the school for a client casework service center.  My last job today was to load 75 cots and blankets at the Chapter, pillows from Wal-Mart and towels from Sam’s Club. They will be delivered and the shelter set up tomorrow morning by my coworkers. 

    The week has flown by.

    We made two trips to Logan on Wednesday: the first to deliver bleach, trash bags, paper towels, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and flashlights for distribution to clients, and the second, to deliver six pallets of food to the kitchen.  While we were unloading the food, another team was unloading 750 cleanup kits (approximately 23 pallet loads).  Those cleanup kits and a pallet of comfort kits were loaded the night before at the Charlotte, N.C., Disaster Field Supply Center by fellow volunteers Berkley Godehn, Davey Crockett, and Jim Cunningham.  Because of a trailer snafu they had to work late into the evening and loaded a total of 30 pallets on the trailer. The usual load capacity is 28 pallets so they obviously did a remarkable job. Some of the cleanup kits were dropped in Bluefield before the remainder came here. It’s unusually rewarding to know where our local supplies are ending up.

    The Manassas Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) blew its engine today and will be in the shop for several days.  The Ford dealership nearest Logan is 20 miles away and their diesel mechanic is on vacation until Monday. The Manassas ECRV crew will be replaced this weekend but won’t be needed much for the time being.  I took a van to Logan to bring all their ECRV equipment boxes back to headquarters for safekeeping since we have a security guard here at night.

    Jim

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