I thought Florida was supposed to be warm. But with nights reaching into the 30’s and the girls’ heater breaking in the tent, we have actually had to spend our nightly debriefs huddled together like tiny penguins. The cold, however, hasn’t stopped the gulf branch from finishing 70 work sites. We made a goal to finish 100 work sites by the end of our deployment, and we are now more than halfway there. This is our 4th week on deployment and our flow of assessments and finished work assignments is becoming ever more efficient.
We have had some setbacks, however. Some of our chainsaws are out of commission due to our members impeccable strength. We have luckily found a repairman with Samaritan’s Purse who was kind enough to identify the parts we need and helped us repair one of our saws. We have also been lucky enough to receive help from the Saint Louis conservation Corps. Margaret Gerks has taken the lead on calls and Logan Bleyl has taken charge of Logistics, helping us find housing and food for when we move out of our current base. With their help we have been able to expand to Liberty county, where we are able to help more people in rural areas. Saint Louis presence here also given the command staff the opportunity to reach out into Mexico Beach to help start a volunteer reception center to help with the long term recovery on the coast. With less than 2 weeks left in this deployment, the NCCC, TXCC and St louis teams have gotten pretty close and created an almost family-like environment, which has made these long cold nights bearable. We have been able to lean on each other when things get rough and stressful,and it is nice knowing that we can always rely on our fellow Americorps members.