Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Last Lime in Paradise

Hey Guys,
I made it back to RI late last night. As I flew out of Gulfport yesterday, all of the houses still left standing had blue roofs. My wife picked me up at the airport and we went to Chili’s for a bite to eat. Eating in a restaurant was strange and cold. When the waitress asked if we wanted desert
I asked for Mississippi mud pie. They were out.
I already miss chicken fried everything under the tent. No more grits for breakfast. It is cooler here in RI than when we left, no sweating. Birds sing and there is the noise of everyday life, no choppers, generators or snoring. No litter, no piles, street lights work, houses are whole, no mud. The phone woke me up this morning. Beds are squishy, I miss the cot. The fridge has cold beer not ten feet from where I sit, I don’t want one. Ice is no longer a commodity.
I rolled out the poster that everyone signed yesterday morning, on the kitchen table last night. My wife and a friend just stared at it for the longest time. I couldn’t explain, words have so little power over what we have seen. I will have it framed tomorrow and have it there when you arrive for GC. Yesterday Anthony (Map Guy) noticed that no one signed over the search area's hallowed ground. I hope Rhode Islanders come to understand and truly appreciate what you have accomplished. Your professionalism, decorum, endurance, and pride are the stuff of legends. I am reverently honored to have had the distinct privilege to observe the finest group of working professionals in this state if not the country. I am humbled by the experience.
Take care, be safe and thanks for the last lime in paradise,
Robert Anderson

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dispatch from Pensacola

Dispatch from Pensacola

Jeff Allen, Anthony and I (Robert Anderson) arrived here last night. We are being housed in the BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters). A much needed hot shower and soft bed was waiting for us when we arrived. With sleep comes clarity; with reflection, tears. In this repose we wait.

Anthony and I are at the Library Computer lab on Base catching up on email, and Anthony is updating his blog. The generator onboard the Map Guy van is giving us some trouble. Anthony is calling the LTC to see if we can get it serviced here on base. We are also working on and tracking data for this storm. I will also finish plotting and propagating the sites for Bay St. Louis and Waveland as soon as the van is back up. Be sure to check Anthony’s site for his updated photos and blog.

Being back in the 1st world is odd after being surrounded by so much utter oblivion.

I took a helo (Anthony says “auto gyro” in his best Mr. Burns accent) ride yesterday with Wayne to scope out sites for the network expansion. The devastation from the air is profound and disturbing. Enabling telecommunications infrastructure to this area is one of the most vital elements to recovery for people in shelters, businesses and Government. The impact of its absence has been largely overlooked and under estimated or addressed in planning. With the efforts of this group many lives will be affected in a most extraordinary way. To hear the overwhelming joy in someone’s voice when he or she finds someone lost is truly indescribable. I just wish we had more time and money to light those lines up.

We are all down here on our own time and each 100% out of pocket. Most can only stay a week at most two. It is hard to leave. I think we all feel the importance of what we are doing. We feel guilty for sleeping, leaving is very sad; we work until it is obvious that we are becoming ineffective because of exhaustion. Mac’s voice rings in my head like some kind of get-er-dun guru. Where does that man get the strength? I came down with Anthony and Brian because Jim said there was a serious need. He understated it by a mile. Jim exhausted himself to tears. Our only collective reward so far is the kindness that surrounds us, and a smile from those weary souls we so desperately want to help.

Stay safe,