A slightly different day than those we've had the rest of the week. No individual deployments but were scheduled to deploy 5 additional units at McDonald Field, to further support the Neighborhood Cluster concept. When we arrived at McDonald Field, however, the tents that were to have been cleared in the area where we were going to erect the shelters was still occupied by the private group that had been helping distribute food in the area. After quickly conferring, Allegra, Sam and Chris decided we could put them in a playground area. The previous units deployed at McDonald Field were being used, but primarily by the volunteers and as community support. It is hoped that with the Mayor's support, the word of the Neighborhood Cluster will spread and a group of families will live in the structures, supporting each other. We had planned to get them all up in time to head over the EOC meeting to get "badged" but with the delays caused by the change in location, we finished around the same time as the meeting was to start. We later discovered it was just as well, because they had recently moved the location of the meetings and the badge machine wasn't working. One thing you can count on here, it's always changing, and you just need to be flexible.
We headed over to the New Waveland Cafe, planning to get there for an early dinner. Little did we know what was in store for us. As usual, we were fed well and the conversation and entertainment were lively. We had dinner with a couple from Bay St. Louis, Kathryn and Jim. They both had grown up there and knew each other, but both left town for college. In fact, at one point or another, they both went to Tulane, where my oldest daughter is a sophomore (and looking forward to moving back to New Orleans in January when the campus opens again!) They met again about 3 years ago when she moved back to Bay St. Louis. I didn't get to hear his story, but she lost her house and everything and is living in a small trailer, still no electricity. Despite this loss, she is committed to working in the community to bring the town back. She's very concerned about potential future health problems that folks may suffer due to the contamination in the water that covered the town, and is committed to ensure the issue is addressed. Again, the dedication and spirit of people who have lost everything, or close to it, and yet work so hard to help others is humbling. When so many people would think only to hunker down and "take care of their own", for these folks "their own" has a much broader meaning.
After dinner we got word that someone had brought down a geodesic dome to serve as a community center. 60 foot in diameter; it is a monster! They had an idea of where they wanted to put it and enlisted our help. Being dome makers, our folks couldn't resist getting sucked into the debate of where to set up the dome, how the arc would change depending on the orientation of the dome, what would need to be moved, how that could be done. At one point, high in the insanity cycle, we were actually talking about helping them start erecting the dome that night! Sanity did finally prevail, and after much herding of cats a final resting place for the dome was decided. That meant the World Shelters structure which was serving as the medical clinic's admissions/triage area had to be moved. Many hands, including ours, rushed to move everything out of that tent and then there was more herding of cats to decide where to move it, how far it needed to go, whether to place it offset, flush with the longer unit etc etc Stone, the amazing EMT who supervises the clinic, exhausted as he was, stepped up and made the decisions in lighting bolt fashion. Armed with that directive, we redeployed the unit. Sam and Loren rocked as they drilled through the asphalt to restake the structure, while the rest of us helped move the contents back in the tent, take down another circus awning that needed to be moved to make way for the dome, move massive amounts of supplies (helped tremendously by one of those volunteers who arrive in Waveland from just about anywhere and offer to help. This fellow is named James and he hails from outside of Atlanta. Jumped on the forklift and moved those pallets and brought a pragmatism to many of the dome discussions. The Rainbow guys were right on with where they wanted it and how to make it work) In sum, we generally made ourselves useful, all to the lively beat of drumming.
By this time it was after 9:00 pm and felt like 1 am. We hustled "home" and ran to the shower truck. Ray was waiting with towels and I don't think a shower has ever felt that good. Perked us up and a few of us stayed up for awhile just enjoying each other's company. It is amazing how a joint project like this can bring people who have never met together as not only a team, but as friends, almost immediately.