“So, change of plans. We’re heading to Louisiana to help with the flooding instead of going to Texas.”
Let me back it up for you. This past week has been one of the longest weeks of my life. From our 6 hour drive from Sacramento to San Luis Obispo, to our 8 hour DSA training days, there hasn’t been much time for rest and not much alone time. The only time I’m completely alone is while showering, so it’s an interesting change. In SLO, we were lodging at an active military base camp. Our dorm room held 20 girls all sleeping in beds, in a row, in one room. I obviously wouldn’t prefer to be staying there, with set eating times, a curfew, in a gated area that feels like prison… But beggars can’t be choosers. We would spend our days preparing for the work we thought we’d be doing in Denton, Texas. Buuuuut Surprise, surprise.
Throughout all of our trainings, we have heard the words , “FEMA Flexible.” And that’s exactly what we’re demonstrating now. We thought we’d be working in the regional FEMA office in Denton, Texas where we mapped out the routes, hotels, pit stops, and did all our team research on. But right before leaving, we were thrown the curveball that instead, Baton Rouge, Louisiana needs us more. So back to the drawing board with our team planning. Louisiana is going through some of the worst flooding they’ve had in 21 years. We will be going door to door to help the survivors get assistance from FEMA, as well as refer them to other resources for help. We’re all excited to actually be doing work in our field, because in Denton we would have most likely just stayed in the office all day doing different field work than we were trained on. To say I’m terrified is a little bit of an understatement. As much training as I’ve had, it’s still a tad bit worrisome to know that we are basically acting as first responders to these survivors that are going through legitimately the worst day of their lives. But at the same time, it’s empowering and beyond rewarding to know that I may give someone the reason to smile on the worst day of their life. I’m part of a program so much bigger than myself, and I’m so excited to see where this program takes me after the 10 months.
Aside from all the FEMA training, San Luis Obispo was absolutely beautiful. I had the opportunity to do some hiking through the mountains for incredible views. I was also able to freeze my feet in the Pacific Ocean in Pismo Beach. In the bigger spectrum of things, FEMA training has been rough…really rough. But I’ve been able to do and see so many incredible things already, and it’s only a month in. I’ve met such inspiring and interesting people. I’ve learned such abstract information. && Ive been eager to show off my new found skills. Though it still feels like I’m at a summer camp just hanging around, stuff is about to get real…real fast.
Right now I’m currently making my way to Louisiana with my team in our 15-passenger van. Im sandwiched in the back row of the van, surrounded by my team, blasting some throw back music between driving and taking naps. We just took a detour through the Painted Desert by Flagstaff, Arizona as we make our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the night. We’ll spend the next night in Wichita Falls, Texas before traveling the rest of the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
If you could do one thing for me, keep the people of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, New Jersey, and all the others that are being impacted by this disaster, in your thoughts and prayers.
Hiking in San Luis Obispo.