>> Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The waters have receded here in Nashville, and now it's time for the clean-up and recovery. The scope of this disaster is humbling. Middle Tennessee put out the call for help, and we answered. I am in awe of the response to the call for volunteers. Our state is known as "The Volunteer State" and in the last few weeks we have lived up to that name. I am not a native Tennessean, but after 20 years here, I call it home. It is a home that I am proud of.
I thought that I would give you a little sense of what volunteering in flood relief is like. I have learned two major things. Disaster relief is a "hurry up and wait" process and involves a whole lot of decisions on the fly. The flood occurred on May 1st - 3rd. I started volunteering on Friday, May 7th. My first task was to answer phones for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. We were taking donations for the relief effort. The next day (Saturday), I volunteered with the American Red Cross. Wow, did I learn a lot from them. That organization had an entire military-type operation up and running in just a few days. The speed of their response was amazing, as was their adaptability. They were organized and ready to adapt to what ever need the community had. I spent my time loading cases of water on to a truck for flood victims. The next day (Sunday) the Red Cross sent me out to the adjacent county on a truck filled with relief supplies. It was a wonderful feeling to know that my small efforts might be helping a family in need.
Last weekend, I manned a water distribution location. So many people are working hard to tear apart the damaged portions of their homes and clean out all of the debris (which used to be their household possessions). They need water to sustain them, so my husband and I joined a crew to hand out water. This weekend, I will be back with the Red Cross. I am supposed to help clean cots that were used in the local flood shelters. Given the way these things work, I don't really know what I will be doing. I just want to do my part as a citizen of The Volunteer State.