Monday, May 23, 2011


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The western sky was an ominous dark gray-green and I knew that it was mean. I was walking between buildings for Art-A-Whirl on Sunday afternoon when the tornado sirens began their ear-splittingly loud wail. I turned my tail around and headed back to the Northrup King building. I rushed in and told people that we needed to move to an interior hallway. They looked perplexed until I told them a tornado was outside.

Actually, it was a couple miles to the west in the North Minneapolis neighborhoods. Horrible. Several people at Art-A-Whirl used “smart” phones or people called to let them know about the storm that swept through St. Louis Park, Minneapolis, and northern suburbs. My phone is old fashioned but I knew that it was time to head home. I didn’t learn of the extent of the damage until I turned on the tv.

I immediately called the Red Cross since I am a trained disaster volunteer. I let them know that I was available. When a disaster occurs you never “self deploy” or just show up at the scene. You might get in the way of first responders (law enforcement, fire, ems/emt). Gawking is even worse, you could get hurt and slow down emergency responders so just stay home and watch it on tv. Its nice to volunteer but make certain that you are helping in an organized effort or you'll add to the chaos.

Red Cross called me back. I assisted at the Family Assistance Shelter as a Red Cross worker. Almost 200 people were already there and more came in to have about 250 people sleep overnight. They had nowhere else to go. Many of their homes were completely destroyed or damaged too badly to remain. Most were renters and not sure what their landlords would do to assist them. Traumatized. I will not divulge specifics because that would be disrespectful to their pain and violate HIPAA rules.

I am exhausted. I need to get in some sleep before I return. The only advantage is my schedule is fairly open due to unemployment. I can help more than if I were working full time. The damage in MN is bad but I feel sorry for the folks in Missouri. Their storm was much worse and it follows the devastating storms that swept through the South last month. Global warming is a fact, no myth.

Every person has the responsibility to prepare themselves, loved ones and pets for disaster for details.

Are you ready???

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