Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Shares Experience from Louisiana Deployment

This month, Mid-West TN Volunteer, Travis Smith, writes about his experiences while being deployed to Louisiana.

Travis Smith
My name is Travis Smith.  I’m a Red Cross volunteer and serve as the Disaster Assessment Lead for the Mid-West Tennessee Chapter. I was recently deployed to Baton Rouge, LA and served there in a disaster assessment position. I spent most of my time assessing the flood damage that had occurred with a team of volunteers from across the nation.

It was my first time serving the American Red Cross as a DA in a disaster relief response. Our team was the first to try out a new system called, "Survey 123." Instead of writing all our assessments on street sheets, we entered the data into mobile phones and sent it directly to the disaster headquarters in real time. This allowed information to get to other departments quicker so that they could respond to the harder hit areas as soon as possible. We learned a lot and did many assessments in a short time. One hundred percent of the DA process was completed in just two weeks thanks to our hard working volunteers and this new technology.

Due to the wide spread damage and limited lodging options, we spent our nights in one of several staff shelters. Shelter life was easier than some may think. We were all there for the same reason, we had someone to talk to at the end of a long day and it was quiet at lights out- except for a few snores here and there.

Even though my days were long and sometimes rough, I am glad I was able to deploy to serve the people affected by the Louisiana floods, and plan to deploy again when the need arises.

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