Late yesterday afternoon Hurricane Sandy landed ashore, slamming into New England with a vengeance that has not been seen in years. With winds extending 450 miles from the center of the storm, the impacts were felt from North Carolina all the way up through New York City into Rhode Island and beyond.
As the winds and rain lashed out in their fury, the Corps Members (CMs) and Team Leaders (TLs) of Traditional NCCC and the newly created FEMA Corps hunkered down and waited out the storm as we staged a response to the storm of the century.
In the Emergency Management world, there are jokes about natural disasters being job insurance. It’s an awful thing to joke about. Somebody elses suffering. Somebody elses life on the line.
We watched Sandy move up the East coast with a sick fascination. We watched and waited to see where the eye would pass on shore, where we would be sent to help survivors. The excitement was electrifying, but we were paralyzed by fear.
Several families of our CMs and fellow TLs live in the hardest hit areas of the country. All of us know somebody that is affected, that this storm is consuming in its path. We all have family and friends in the path of this storm. None of us can escape its reach.
We watched in fear as the waves slammed onto the shore and the waters swallowed the land before our very eyes. We listened to families who described the winds ripping through homes and the waters rushing forth. As the storm passed, we discovered that our worst fears had passed as well.
While hundreds of thousands are without power, none of us here in FEMA Corps have lost those that are closest to us. Houses can be repaired and rebuilt. Roads can be cleared and water pumped out.
The worst of the storm has passed, but there is still more to come as the bands of rain pour in and this superstorm collides with the nor’eastern that is rushing in with the snow.
I had hoped that the storm would take a turn out to sea, missing our nation and all landfall in North America. While my hopes were wrong, I am confident in my team, fellow TLs and all those that are serving in FEMA Corps, Traditional NCCC, with the American Red Cross, Coast Guard, and all the Emergency Services around the New England Region.
I am fortunate to have served alongside these individuals.
While several Traditional NCCC teams are now serving in shelters up and down the coast, many of us are waiting (not so) patiently for our own service assignments wherever we are needed. At this point, we still do not know where we will go or what we will do, but we know that we will be making a difference wherever we are.
God Bless and PEACE