June 29, 2006
The Washtenaw Chapter calls mid-morning to ask if I'm available for a ten day deployment starting immediately. Spend the rest of the morning finishing up a few things around the office, then arrive at the Chapter for a briefing and an assignment. Another volunteer and I will be driving our ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) #2172 to Harrisburg Pennsylvania.
June 30, 2006
We leave Ann Arbor in the morning. The trip should be about 490 miles. By the time we arrive in Harrisburg, the local headquarters has shut down for the night. Luckily we meet up with ERV #1113. Their crew has already checked in to a hotel, and leads us to it. There are four ERV crews checked in, along with half a dozen other volunteers.
July 1, 2006
Harrisburg Headquarters, 8:00 AM, July 1, 2006
Loading ERVs at Wilkes-Barre
The local headquarters is set up in a shopping mall about half an hour down the road. Given how quiet the town seems to be-this isn't what we should be hearing if operations are underway locally-the two of us pack all our luggage back onto the ERV. I don't think we'll be staying here.
The Harrisburg headquarters is manned by two people whose task it is to reassign us to Wilkes-Barre. We get on the road and arrive in Wilkes-Barre a few hours later. #2172 is taken out of service due to a leak in the filler tube for the fuel tank. We spend a good part of the early afternoon trying to locate a service center open on a July 4th weekend. No such luck, so we are reassigned to other crews. I join #1125 from Atlanta. Four ERVs, including ours, are being sent with full loads to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania to join the ERV already operating there.
We arrive in Bloomsburg after hours and are sent to our hotel. Like most of the area, the hotel is without drinkable water. The water treatment plant was damaged by the floods, and it will be some days before water is restored. Fortunately, our hotel had a well on the property as well, and while it wasn't certified by the Health Department, it was safe to shower with. Hand washing and tooth brushing would be done with bottled water.
July 2, 2006
Our five feedings ERVs begin feeding in the Bloomsburg/Espy area. We are operating out of the Bingo hall of the Espey volunteer fire department, and using their well-equipped commercial kitchen, staffed by local volunteers. The ERV crews divide the area and begin to collect information about the areas of greatest need as they drive around.
July 3, 2006
We are joined by five more ERVs (including #2172) which will be used to distribute cleaning supplies. The ERVs will travel in pairs, one feeding, one with cleaning supplies. I'm promoted to ERV coordinator (aka "Yard Dog") and tasked with route assignments and generally organizing the flow of traffic and supplies as well as keeping track of staff whereabouts. Today's task is balancing the routes and broadening our area of coverage in response to information gathered during the first day's operations.
July 4, 2006
Today Wilkes-Barre sent only 2 ERVs for bulk distribution.
July 5-9, 2006
3 bulk ERVs and 5 feeding ERVS
July 9, 2006
Last day of feeding.
July 10, 2006
Last day of bulk distribution of cleaning supplies.
July 11, 2006
Today the ERVs returned supplies and equipment to warehouses and the chapters from which they'd been borrowed. I drive with #1168 to Montrose with 160 cases of heater meals. Make travel arrangements for the flight home.
July 12, 2006
The crews depart with their ERVs or by rental car to the Wilkes-Barre headquarters. #2172 is already back in Ann Arbor. At headquarters I run into several people I know. One is from our chapter. One was my suite-mate during a training week in Grand Rapids, and another was my instructor for one of the classes that week.
Dale Austin 2006
All images and text Copyright Dale Austin, 1962-2008