- Category: EmComm/Disaster Relief
- Written by Blake Raab (N4BWR)
I guess it's time for an update now that I have some time to come up for air. A lot has happened since the last time I posted about volunteering with the Red Cross. I was recently interviewed on the Whom It May podcast about volunteering, as well as amateur radio and weather balloons. Things have been so crazy that I actually got the timetable wrong on that podcast when talking about my deployments.
As I sit here typing, I am virtually deployed on a Red Cross disaster relief operation. I am doing recovery casework, doing phone interviews and discussions with clients who have experienced damage from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Zeta in Georgia. As a recovery caseworker, I help them identify roadblocks to recovery and point them to resources and funds to overcome those roadblocks and move into a stable housing situation. Before this, I had spent two weeks in New Orleans doing recovery casework as well. I was contacted by someone here at the Red Cross in Georgia who asked if I would like to deploy doing something completely new. I didn't even have the training for it at the time and didn't know what to expect, but I ended up liking it so much that I took the courses required to get the GAP (Group/Activity/Position) for it right there at the hotel in New Orleans one evening. Now I've moved it near the top of my list of GAPs to make sure it's one for which I get deployed again. I think I may also be doing this during steady state or "blue sky", when there are no large scale emergencies. The Red Cross has Disaster Action Teams that respond locally to things like single family fires and apartment fires. After the initial responders on scene talk to the families and collect information, things are turned over to recovery caseworkers to begin that process. It is often mentally and emotionally draining, but it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and I enjoy the challenge of learning something new and trying to be good at it.