DVIDS – Nachrichten – “You could have misplaced every part”: What it’s prefer to act in catastrophe stricken communities

Imagine a city the size of Manhattan. Now imagine 10 Manhattans on fire.

Almost everything is gone. Scorched car frames line the street. People search the ashes where their houses were for anything that could have survived: jewelry, wedding gifts, a vase their mother gave them. Everything smells of melted plastic and smoke.

This is what James Frost, a resource manager at Lake Berlin in Ohio, experienced when he volunteered to help Paradise, California recover from the 2018 campfire. The fire is the largest and deadliest wildfire in California history.

Frost traveled 2,500 miles from his Ohio home to help these communities recover – not an easy task.

The fire covered more than 153.00 acres of land, forced 52,000 people to evacuate their homes, destroyed 18,000 buildings and caused more than $ 16.6 billion in damage.

“I was overwhelmed to say the least,” said Frost. “These people lost everything in the blink of an eye. Everything – their houses, their infrastructure, everything – went up in smoke. ”

Clad in steel toe boots, a hard hat, and safety gear, Frost began the first of 72 days as a quality assurance inspector trying to bring the community back together.

Disaster-relief debris removal missions are assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As the inspector for quality assurance, Frost made sure that the contractors on site performed this task. Removing the burned infrastructure from the area gave the owners a clean plan for rebuilding their homes.

Frost is no stranger to the job. Since joining Pittsburgh District in 2017, he has volunteered to support eight relief missions, including Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Michael.

Al Coglio, head of emergency management for the Pittsburgh district, relief missions are unique opportunities for Department of Defense personnel. Anyone can volunteer to help communities devastated by hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, or other disasters.

Once district personnel volunteer, they are directed to be operational without notice or notice. It is a must to have a fly-a-way bag that contains protective equipment such as gloves, hard hats and goggles. Sometimes employees are notified in as little as six hours that they need to board a plane to disaster areas.
Nearly 100 district workers have been posted to countless locations including Florida, Guam, Saipan, and the Northern Mariana Islands since 2019.

“We have a saying: ‘All disasters are local’,” said Coglio. “We are supplying temporary generator sets to communities that have no electricity so that their critical infrastructure can be up and running again. You can start to recover. “

Electricity affects everything in a community from critical facilities like hospitals and police stations to simple home amenities like running water. Seeing these areas without electricity is an important paradigm shift for many on the field.

“In Puerto Rico, they had no electricity for more than 100 days. I can’t imagine what that was like, “said Frost. “When you see these communities without power, you realize how self-evident you are and how fragile our livelihoods are.”
Deployments aren’t just about helping communities rebuild their infrastructure. For Kristen Day, an emergency management specialist in the Pittsburgh District, it’s about people getting their lives back.

“Providing a community with FEMA generators brings life-saving and life-sustaining functions, but it also brings joy and happiness to these devastated communities,” said Day, who has worked six times in places like Guam, Puerto in the past few years. in use was Rico and North Carolina.
“To see how these people, who have had no basic services since the disaster, get their hospitals and clean drinking water back, is pure magic.”

For Frost, he was amazed at how resilient people can be.

“They survived a terrible disaster, they lost everything, but they banded together to help each other, friends and neighbors alike,” said Frost. “They took care of each other.”

Recording date: 07/07/2021
Release Date: 07/07/2021 11:19 AM
Story ID: 400452
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