Two weeks ago, I was so ready.
I had made my to-do list, I had skimmed all the necessary demographic information, I had made arrangements at work and at home.
I was ready to go to American Samoa.
So were most of the other AmeriCorps in the office. We checked the news and Disaster Services Human Resource website constantly, wondering if they would need to open up disaster relief calls to our area. Our supervisor told us the chance was about 50/50 – and what a strange period of waiting and not knowing that was. I needed to be fully prepared for either possibility. My co-workers and I would say to each other, “See you at the next meeting, if we’re not all in American Samoa.” We were only half-joking.
As evidence by my continued presence, we did not all ship out to the Pacific, though a large number of volunteers from the western part of the country did leave to provide aid. Now that I am not in a state of flux, the emergency situation in American Samoa has fallen back to that part of my mind where obscure grammar rules reside. That is a mistake.
Initial, emergency relief after a disaster is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The real work begins when the media cameras leave and the reality of a new normal settles in. The problem doesn’t go away with the hype.
Donate to the Disaster Relief Fund. Get trained as a disaster services volunteer. Learn more about the situation in American Samoa. Prepare for a disaster closer to home. The situation in American Samoa still requires our attention. Disaster relief doesn’t end in a week.