Red Cross Deployment Diary (Disaster Mental Health) Entry 3

Kristie Holmes
Sep 18, 2017 · 4 min read

Day 3

Today was a normal day for Red Cross major disaster relief I’m sure- but it was surprising, even for me.

Roy was my teammate and finding coffee was futile. Everything was still closed and if open, like Chick fil a — could only offer French fries & chicken, because the water is still bad. We drove around a middle upper class neighborhood before heading out to some tinier more diverse towns, and more critical stories.

We learned that those with the most debris outside of their home this quickly often had more money, more resources, more family & friends to help. Many that looked “not too bad” were full of mud and destroyed furniture with mold, sewer and water that you can’t drink or even wash your hands with now.

There was run of the mill shock, and far more severe cases as the day went on and we started getting referrals from community leaders.

The irony was the incredible amount of “stuff” outside and the tiny fraction of what people were trying to save. Families and neighbors were showing goodness by working hard not just dropping things off.

When at headquarters we mostly avoided watching the other hurricane news and fires because there’s so much in front of us here. But we hear the west is pretty much burning down. One team member has to leave to go home to get to his family because of Hurricane Irma.

Our team supervisor has been asked for early situation reports the last two days. I can tell you that it’s hard for the Red Cross and every other organization to focus on the greatest need right now. I met some of team Rubicon today and many others. We need more of everything. They do. People’s attention span is news cycle short but this will be long.

My goal for most of the day was getting people to crack a smile or laugh. The Red and White is often the first “helper” they see. It was a good goal. One neighborhood in particular was a bustling disaster but had the vibe of a barn raising. Not that I’ve been to one. It was really hard to leave a couple of people that lived alone with a lot of debris in their home and refusing any help. One only let me bring fruit cups. But, there was a smile.

I saw my first gun safe and found out they aren’t waterproof.

A ladybug landed in my hair when I finally crawled on to my re-blown up air mattress.

Kristie Holmes

Written by

United Nations Civil Society Press & Media Subcommittee Co-Chair, UN Women USA Board of Directors. Clinician. Former Congressional Candidate, SCAD Survivor❤️

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