Hi blog fans!
Im sure if I have talked to you within the last couple days, you already know how this blog is going to start. That being, I can not believe I’m already finished with round 1 of AmeriCorps NCCC-FEMA Corps. A lot has happened since I last posted. When I last updated, I stated that we were closing out our active disaster in Baton Rouge, Louisiana before being deployed off to our next destination. What happens when you add a free weekend, in the capital of Louisiana, mixed in with 9 other teams you haven’t seen in 6 weeks? Concussions. That’s what happens. Let’s just say, Baton Rouge got the best of Green 6.
After our weekend in Baton Rouge, we were deployed to our original task in Denton, Texas. For the last month, we were working at the Region 6 office helping out with the Operations department. The Region 6 office caters to the preparedness, readiness, response, and recovery of 5 states: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The office itself is probably one of the most interesting offices to work at. The office was built back in the Cold War, and it was originally a bunker that would be able to withstand the blasts of a one-megaton nuclear explosion at a distance of a 1 mile radius. The bunker itself goes below ground two levels, with about 50,000 square feet of space. So yeah, I’d say that’s pretty legit. One level underground houses the RRCC (Regional Response Coordination Center). This is where FEMA monitors events, such as, Hurricanes, Tornados, Flooding, etc. The RRCC will activate once the president declares a state of emergency in one of the 5 states, so that FEMA and the federal government can respond to the disaster prior to a JFO (Joint Field Office) being built.
Our work in the Denton Region 6 office has unfortunately been very limited so far. We were assigned to Denton for what is predicted to be a year long task. They mostly want our team through the hurricane season, which is currently happening right now. The staff at the office is by far some of the most helpful people that we have been able to meet. They have made it known how thankful they are to have a FEMA Corps team with them this year, and they have been excited to show us the different fields in FEMA. I’m happy our team was able to put our DSA training to use in Louisiana, boots on ground, and helping out survivors. But FEMA is so much more than knocking on doors and registering survivors. There’s so many different agencies associated with FEMA as well. In the office, we’ve had some trainings on logistics, planning, GIS mapping, and the watch team.
I currently have mixed emotions about being in Denton until November. On the one hand, I joined AmeriCorps as an excuse to travel around the country. But on the other hand, if I were to choose one place to stay, Denton might be it. It’s a suburban college town, with hella more stuff to do than Rayville, Louisiana…that’s for sure.
*so, I started writing this blog during Transition, and things have since changed again, so here’s the actual update of my AmeriLife*
During our break, we were informed that our plans for round 2 had changed again. Instead of heading back to Denton, Texas to work in the Region 6 Headquarters, we’d be heading down to Spring, Texas outside of Houston for the current flooding that they were experiencing over Memorial Day weekend. Like round 1, we would be going door-to-door, to help register survivors for FEMA assistance, as well as ensure that all of their essential needs are met.
So far, the weather down here for one is very very humid and hot. But we come into contact with so many caring individuals that offer us just a few seconds to stand in their homes to escape the heat. So many people have offered us cold water, when they have literally next to nothing in their now destroyed homes. We’ve heard the stories of neighbors helping neighbors. And we’ve witnessed streets on streets of homes being muck and gutted. We’ve come into contact with so many people that are just beyond grateful to see our FEMA blue shirts walking around their neighborhoods…but like wise, we also come into contact with those that want nothing to do with us or the government. I can’t even begin to describe this experience. I will say, it’s not always easy. It takes a toll on you some days, and other days it’s beyond wonderful.
I joined this program to utilize my passion of helping people. I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to help those that were in desperate need. I wanted to give something back. But with each passing day, I feel I am the one that is being benefited from it. I feel so full knowing that I’m surrounded by such a wonderful community, helpful FEMA employees, and a great team.
For the time being, it is predicted that our team will be deployed down here helping with the flood until August. But this program is crazy, so who knows where we’ll be next month, the next week, or even tomorrow. It’s such an unpredictable program, and I absolutely love it.
(here is our unit celebration we put together for round 1. Sometimes the background music doesn’t play, so it might be acapella, which is real embarrassing, but yeah….try to enjoy)