Tough Times

These are tough times in my beloved USA. My favorite US Caribbean islands have been hammered by a massive hurricane that has its sights set on…

…a mainland U.S. landfall by the weekend.

My family who live in the forecast strike zone have all evacuated elsewhere to safety. That is a relief.

My colleagues and friends with whom I have worked, trained, and participated on exercises (tests of plans) have been implementing their skills for public safety that they do so well.

Many of my friends and colleagues in the profession have deployed to Texas, the Caribbean, and to staging areas of the southern USA. In some ways, I regret that I am not with them, but in other ways, I am not unhappy that I am safe at home.

I know that is a double-negative (not unhappy), but that is how I feel. I am suffering from some “response withdrawal,” but in the past, I paid my dues and ran most every time the bell rang.

For example, I was on a plane that was the last to arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before the airport was shut down in advance of arrival of Hurricane Hugo on September 18, 1989. I was taken to a “hurricane proof” shelter that during the height of the storm (and middle of the night), the roof blew off and the shelter filled with three feet of water.

I learned a lot — how much the people of Puerto Rico are so warm, caring, thoughtful, fun, and energetic. I returned to Puerto Rico at least 20 times to conduct training and participate in exercises side-by-side with new friends.

Also in the past, I worked and trained with exceptionally capable responders and leaders in Texas. While the historic and unprecedented floods that occurred after Hurricane Harvey were exceptional, those in the professional community can say that they kinda knew this disaster was in the making for a long time. I’ll leave politics out of it, but suffice to say that “pro-development” and “anti-regulation, anti-zoning” policies in place for a long time contributed to this mess. They never should have allowed so much development in areas that they knew were subject to flooding.

During these trying times for my country, I am home and have no plans to go anywhere for response. Those activities are not in my suite of work assignments these days, though I am supplementing the staff of my employer’s leadership advisors, based on my lengthy experience in my field.

I was called and recruited to serve as a volunteer in Texas, especially because of my experience and ability to speak Spanish. But had to decline. I have commitments for work, serving as the “acting boss” and TBC advisor. My work situation restricts me to staying home.

It is time for the younger and more able-bodied folks to do this work. I guess in a way that I am going through “pass-the-torch” melancholy.

But tough times persist at home, and I couldn’t leave now if I wanted to. My Spouse requires more TLC. Doctor’s visits, medical studies, and potentially surgeries (more than one) are on my caregiving docket. I am focusing on my “one and only” while I watch what is happening elsewhere.

Give what you can — of your heart and of financial contributions to dedicated and experienced organizations that provide disaster relief assistance. By all means, DON’T collect canned clothing and used food to send somewhere. All that “stuff” piles up because there are no resources to receive, store, clean, and equitably distribute well-intended donations. I witnessed 11 TONS of donated clothing be buried in a landfill in Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. If you have “stuff” you want to get rid of, donate it locally to help your neighbors.

Life is short: be at peace and be safe.