Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Initial Update - Monday, October 3, 2005

Greetings from Mobile, AL. This is the headquarters for The American Red Cross and its relief/recovery operations in Mississippi and Alabama. The center is housed in a WalMart Supercenter! The entire building was vacant of ALL of merchandise and shelving! Inside this now cavernous space are housed dozens and dozens of separate "offices" partitioned off with colored tape. 6' walls and tables. Every aspect of a disaster relief operation is in full swing - from our amateur radio operation - mental health services - lost family center - and a full technology center where 400+ computers are networked!

Outside in the parking lot sits 100+ Budget rental trucks with the ARC logo, hundreds and hundreds of stacked green camp cots and a dozen vans shuttling workers to and from area motels.

After being stopped at the entry by security and given a "visitor's" badge, we checked in with our "supervisor" at the communications section - got processed and entered into the system - and began our orientation. We have been assigned to The MS/AL Emergency Operations Center at the former Stennis Space Center to provide continued communications to folks in the field. Cell phone and landlines are still unreliable - a month later.

We have been given a room at a local motel - Air-conditioning and Wi-Fi!! We will spend tomorrow at the Center and then head over to Mississippi. The RV was an easy drive down and we will be glad to have it when we get on site.

Even in this city, the presence of evacuees is overwhelming - not only the motels but on the streets and in the restaurants. Outside the motel rooms there are a number of groups that sit and chat while young children run and play. Luckily the weather in the evening is quite comfortable - in the low 80s. However, all about, there is a sense of total despair and question of what the future holds for these people.

Will try to post photos tomorrow.



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