Sunday, October 5, 2008

The week after the storm

I apologize for getting so far behind in this blog, but the storm just took everything out of me. It's been weird that I've lost track of time so much that I didn't realize that it was just last weekend that I brought Stella home from Port Arthur.

The week after the storm was just a blur of work. The stores/gas stations slowly opened, and as they did, the traffic jams immediately began. We had to go from store to store, organizing their traffic lines and keeping the long lines off the streets and highways. The Grace united Methodist Church had a POD (Point Of Delivery) every day that further caused traffic problems. The line into the church parking lot where the food and water give-aways were being done were pretty easy to take care of because there is a good paved shoulder on Hwy. 6 that we could keep the waiting traffic contained on the side of the road. the problems were caused by people stopping in the middle of the road (on both sides of the road) to ask questions about what was being offered, or if we knew where to get whatever was needed and not offered here. It seemed as if they were mad that we were giving out MRE's (many didn't want these, only prepared food or sandwiches), water but didn't have ice. I know that everyone was shocked and frustrated so perhaps mad is the wrong term, but it's certainly what I experienced.

Twelve hours a day was very tiring, with walking back and forth to keep things running smoothly. We had no fights in the lines, only a few folks that tried to cut into the lines, and best of all NO traffic accidents involving any of the lines. We only had one accident that week which is somewhat of a record for Manvel. We usually have more accidents than that on a normal work week.

On Friday, the POD had been changed to the Manvel High school from the church. Another brilliant decision from FEMA. They would not allow any FEMA donations to be delivered to a private property, only to a government-owned property. We had something like 15 semi trucks loaded with ice and water on Friday. Once we got things organized and a plan set in place, it all ran smoothly. I'm still amazed at the number of high ranking officers from other agencies who would come by and sniff at our methods and tell us of "more efficient" ways of distributing the items, although our ways have been working all week long with few problems or complaints.

I did get mad about some DPS personnel that came on Friday. Their only job was to watch for anyone that might be getting more than their share of ice or water. When asked to help with a post to help us out in running the operation, I was told that their only job was to stand at the front lines where the distribution was being done to watch what was going on. They did nothing to help the volunteers in handing out items, but later in the afternoon, one did go to the Dollar store and buy some white shoe polish to mark the tires of the cars coming through to keep them from circling the block to return. I wonder how much ice they kept from being "illegally" distributed. I think we had four semi trucks with ice in their trailers and we certainly wouldn't have wanted to run out.

I was released at 2:00 on Friday afternoon, the first 8 hour day in a week. I still don't remember driving home that day, and sat down in my recliner to take a nap as soon as I got home. I didn't wake up 'til 5:45 and then had to scramble to get to the bank to deposit my paycheck before they closed at 6. I came back home and went back to bed at my normal 7 o'clock and slept until 6 the next morning. It was a good thing I didn't have to be at work.....

Again, little real food was offered by the city, only snacks or sandwiches prepared by others were given to us. I was really too tired to eat anyway and at the end of the day, I just stumbled home and fell into bed. With no lights on, there was nothing else to do anyway. I was in bed by 7:30 or 8 every night. Then I would wake very early and be afraid to go back to sleep for fear of not waking again and being late for work. I ran out of hot water in the water heater by Tuesday, so had to take cold showers and shave using cold water.

It was probably one of the worst weeks of my life.

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