Friday, August 19, 2016


By the end of February, 2016, I had completed training and met Red Cross requirements to become a Disaster Relief Volunteer (DRV) behind the wheel of an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) deployed to Flint, a city long on the wane devastated by a municipal water supply poisoned with lead.  The DRV’s I met seemed very nice, some couples, most of them retired, all veterans of Katrina or Sandy or flooding across the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and the Ozarks.  They dressed in Red Cross wear, vests and billed caps festooned with service pins.  Go-bags stashed in front closets, they lived on stand-by, promptly answered late night calls, boarded pets, stopped mail, deployed for weeks or months at a time.  I started on a snowy Friday, followed by a rainy Tuesday, then a damp Saturday, another cold Friday, before settling on a day certain that suited my retiree’s schedule.  I would volunteer in Flint on Wednesdays, March through July, 2016, for a total of five months.  Most DRV’s in Flint deployed for a five day week as did a rotating group of AmeriCorp volunteers, living dormitory style on stipend meals.  Five days a week, week after week.  My Disaster Relief vest helped dispel the nagging guilt of a dilettante, but only a little. 

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