When Superstorm Sandy wrecked the East Coast, two local men were among the hundreds who answered the call for help.
Dale Johnson from College Place and Doug Venn of Prescott joined the relief efforts, both going to work in New Jersey warehouse to receive and distribute aid to Sandy’s victims.
Both became involved as Adventist Community Service Disaster Relief volunteers, Dale recounted to reporter Andy Porter, who wrote this item.
In Dale’s case, he left on Nov. 30 and returned on Christmas Day.
The two joined others in the Trenton, N.J., area, where they labored in a Federal Emergency Management Agency facility to receive goods, sort and package them and then distribute everything to organizations and individuals.
Dale said a typical day consisted of getting up at 5:30 or 6 a.m., then after a 30- to 45-minute commute, working a full day until going back to their quarters in the evening. “(We) were always active and sometimes the work for some was hard and strenuous, like lifting heavy boxes or loading a relatively large U-Haul van by hand,” he said.
The aid poured in from many different sources, both private and public, Dale said.
“Sometimes there would be semi-trailers to unload that might have $100,000 worth of food goods or 5,000-plus new woolen blankets from Sears,” he said. “(We would) stack and inventory items, sort out new shipments and repackage them (and) get orders from volunteer organizations and fill them.”
Sorting became a major activity, he said, “because many times items (came) mixed up, like extra-large, large, medium and small coats in one box or 12 3/4-inch wrenches in one box and 121/4-inch wrenches in another.” All of these, and hundreds of other items, had to be sorted out and placed in new boxes. Those, in turn, were sealed up, marked on all sides, placed on pallets, which were also wrapped up before being moved on to a specified destination.
And, as with any government operation, there was the paperwork.
“FEMA is very particular and everything given to the warehouse had to be accounted for by signatures from organizational personnel or individuals receiving something through community distribution,” Dale said.
“Only shoe dust left the building without authorization.”
Overall, Dale said the experience was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience that both he and Venn would do again.
“Almost anyone can assist in disaster relief,” he said.
“All one has to do is check his ego at the door.”
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.