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All Hands Volunteers, Project Minot

… And Then it Hails

This part of the world is really being hammered by the weather just now. Today Bill reported the worst hail he’d ever seen and a possible tornado warning. This is after yesterday’s flash flood warnings and of course the massive flooding a few weeks ago. Teams out in the field joined together for easier coordination if things had gotten worse and hunkered down in a property with a basement to see if the tornado sirens would sound. Thankfully the hail passed quickly and the warning turned out to be just that and they jobs got back under way after a welcome half hour break.

In the auditorium today – home of the Minot Area Recovery Coordination Center and manned by me, Jen and Kat – I had the pleasure of lending my ear to a lovely elderly gentleman who, it seems, just popped in for a chat. The house he has lived in since 1956 is damaged beyond repair and is probably going to be demolished so no, thank you, he didn’t need any volunteers to come over and help him.

Except for one thing. Somewhere in the house was they key to a safe deposit box and he wasn’t sure the bank would give him access to it without the key so if he could put in a request to have someone go and track down the key that would be great. On second thoughts, he concluded, the bank probably has some kind of system in place for just this eventuality and perhaps he doesn’t need that person after all. So, on account of the house being demolished he doesn’t need any volunteer assistance, not even to find the key.

Oh. Ok, cheerio then.

And although this little tale might raise a little chuckle, as it did from me as he headed out, this just underlines the emotional impact of a disaster like this. A lot of the people who come to the desk to register for assistance want to talk to someone as much as they want to get their house in the job queue. They want to be able to complain to someone who isn’t in the same desperate situation, because they don’t want to burden the loved ones who have just as much on their plates. They want to be able to cry and then go home and keep being strong for the family.

I thought it might be easier responding to a disaster in a developed country but it’s not. Just because you were rich (in global terms at least) before disaster strikes doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when it’s all taken away.

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About Jess UK

Fell in love with the crazy, inspiring, all-or-nothing world of disaster response and the wonderfully ridiculous, hard-working people who are drawn to it. Currently working in the Philippines as part of the recovery efforts after Typhoon Washi/Sendong! Want to know more? Check out disasterchasers.wordpress.com.

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