Steve Wise is a volunteer with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois who is currently deployed to Florida for Hurricane Michael. He had only recently returned home after deploying to North Carolina for Hurricane Florence. Steve is now sharing some of his experiences.
Last night was my first night ever in a First Responders Base Camp. For the Red Cross and utility company first responders – a base camp was stood up at the Tallahassee Airport in response to Hurricane Michael.
Next to one of its runways and in a large open field – you will find this camp. It consists of many large white tents that include housing, a feeding area, and other support functions. Between them you will find many trailers that include sinks, showers, and laundry.
This is probably the closest that I have come to camping since my childhood days. The food was good, chatted with fellow team and local Red Crossers, slept well, and had a warm shower. But the thing that you marvel at the most – is what you find inside this base camp.
Inside you will find the hearts of many, many volunteers. They get up early, go through their daily ritual that we all have which is something like grabbing a bite to eat, assembling their gear, and being ready to go. This camp is full of energy and is a beehive of activity. It is truly something to marvel at.
For those flying out of the Tallahassee Airport – those that don’t know will look at this base camp as a simple tent city. But inside these tents you will find the hearts of volunteers from across the country. Those that stop their lives for a few weeks – and have the support of their families and loved ones that they leave behind.
And the one thing that unites us – is our willingness to help put the lives of those so negatively impacted…back together.
So, if you ever see or pass a tent city that is setup in response to a disaster – stop and think of who is inside it. And say a prayer for those inside to be safe and to do their best – helping those that so desperately need their help.