Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gustav Response...and also, hello!

Hi, I am the mysterious Caitlin that de Veer has been talking about. I've been holding down the fort since June as we search for a new Executive Director, and it has been a wild ride so far...particularly the past few days. I've been sending the brief, weird updates to the left through Twitter.com, from the Red Cross shelter most of the HOGC team was assigned to through the storm. We worked for about 3 days straight to prepare the HOGC base in case we got flooded/tornadoed/or lost power/water, then with the Red Cross to help stage their shelters across Harrison and Hancock counties, then checking in and feeding the fine folks who turned out at Stennis Space Center over in Hancock county. Many of our volunteers worked around the clock, and our team really pulled together to assist before, during and after the storm. I am so proud to be a part of this organization right now!

Yesterday and today we've been working on getting our heads around the damage and needs in the area affected by Gustav, and how we can best respond. HOGC and our partner, HopeForce International, are sending a small team of volunteers and AmeriCorps members over to an area just south of Houma, to a town called Chauvin, LA. They will be working to assess the damage in this area tomorrow with the local fire department, and will be housed in the fire station. In the next few days they will begin tarping roofs and clearing debris, as well as working to determine the long term response needs and the capacity for a larger team of volunteers.
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We have received huge support from the Hands On Network and Points of Light staff, as well as The Home Depot, all of whom mobilized literally overnight to support our response effort. An enormous THANK YOU to all of the support we've already received, and to all of the volunteers already registered to help out...we are looking forward to working with you!!

I also traveled to Hancock county today to check out Bay St. Louis, Waveland and Pearlington, and it seems Gustav has been fairly merciful. Some neighborhoods did take quite a bit of water, and we heard about 100 homes were flooded in the area, but the storm surge did not seem to be particularly violent, and the volunteer organizations in the area seem to be acting very quickly to address the needs. We will be helping Presbyterian Disaster Assistance rebuild their volunteer camp so they can begin to receive volunteers, and we also stopped by the PearlMart and they seemed to be in good shape. We will be working with the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) being set up by Volunteer Gulf Coast to receive any work orders and deploy volunteers, but the damage seems to be fairly manageable with the great organizations already working in Hancock county. We will continue to stay in touch with our partner organizations to respond to any further need as people begin to return to their homes and survey their own damage.

I will be traveling to Chauvin on Friday to check out the work our team has been doing and to check out the capacity for the area to receive volunteers, and we will most definitely be working with Hands On New Orleans and Volunteer Baton Rouge, as well as the VRC in Louisiana to deploy volunteers. If you want to come down and help out, please visit www.volunteerlouisiana.gov to register with the VRC...we will be directing all out of state volunteers to this VRC to connect them with organizations to make the recovery effort as orderly and impactful as possible. There will be plenty of work to do clearing debris, tarping, mucking out homes and gutting (AND MOLD REMEDIATION, OF COURSE!!), so as soon as we are able to secure housing, food, and to assess the extent of the work, we would love to have all of ya'll's help!

Take care,

Caitlin

1 comment:

Mike Lazear said...

It is great to see so much relief effort on the part of volunteers. Looks like this situation could have been much worse overall, but people are coming together to do great things. Also love the blog! We are also covering the hurricane(s) and relief on our blog this week at http://current.pic.tv. Keep up the good work, and happy writing!