Saturday, September 10, 2011


 I've had a lot of bad jobs over the years that make me reconsider what I am doing here in the Fire and EMS Service. As I tell the newbies 'Some folks are just not cut out for this stuff, there is no shame in admitting that when it becomes apparent to you.' Perhaps it's time to listen to myself.
 This last storm took more out of me than I think I had to give. The total devastation of property, livelihoods, and infrastructure in every direction around us was more than I could handle.
 In previous posts I showed some of the videos to give an idea of what was going on, but the truth is, they don't even begin to give you an idea. Two weeks on and many folks are still getting power back and re-connecting with the world. I don't care what the media, the politicians, or the utilities might tell you, the fact is a lot of folks have been left on their own because they are cut off from any real hope. Fortunately, those folks are like most self-reliant Americans and have done what needs to be done to care for themselves and their neighbors up to and including rebuilding roads on their own.
 Last night was the first real night of actual rest I've had in 2 weeks. No I have not been out playing hero every day and wearing myself out. I have been trying to balance home, work, and Fire Service responsibilities without a hell of a lot of luck. Every night I lay in bed conflicted by what I WANT to do (be out there helping), and what I have to do (go to work and be a good boy). I work in a small city that had no real impact from the storm, but I live in the hills. The folks at work have no idea how serious the conditions are just 30 miles west of town, and they really don't care. Last night I took my wife out (who is depressed and exhausted from all the family stuff she has been juggling) and we had a couple of beers, listened to some good bluegrass, and enjoyed the company of good friends and family. We returned home relaxed and I managed to get in 10 hours of sleep. I don't do that unless I am really sick or really drunk, neither of which applied here. I had finally relaxed for just a few hours.
 I came down to my desk and thought I could finally get a good blog post off, but every time I began, I just couldn't start thinking about this stuff. We are two weeks along and many of the critical repair project are pretty much where they were two weeks ago. The rain we had on Wednesday erased much if not all of the work that had been done. You might have heard about the flooding in PA and Binghamton, NY, but not a word was said about how it delivered a second blow in our area. Mentally, this was like being kicked in the head while already laying on the ground after a heavy beating for us.
 Take a look at this Associated Press video which was shot on Monday night of the hurricane 8/29 I think, just a few hours after the water started dropping. These guys were tired, but had no idea it had only just begun and would go on for many days after and they would start all over in ten days. Yes, all the evacuation sirens in this area were sounding off at 0600 on Wednesday 9/7/11 all over again and the evacuations began again as water flowed down Main St. in 4 different mountain villages.

I think I am done handing this stuff. I got into this, and stayed in it, to help people, my neighbors, but I have learned that we are constricted by our leadership. In my county this is a severe handicap. Although our leadership is not corrupt as far as I know, they are simply bureaucrats whose first order of business is to keep their jobs. They showed no courage or leadership in my eyes during this event. In fact, my personal opinion is that they willfully abdicated responsibility and virtually abandoned their posts. Of course, their press releases, when they did come out, made them sound like miracle workers. It was all bull. The people and the small towns they were supposed to help,  were on their own. The County leadership was, and remains, a house of cards. Witness this:

The reporter in this video rode her mountain bike up the road the day it was opened for foot traffic, three days after the storm came through.
 I was speaking with a Chief in a mutual aid department where I went out to help last weekend and he said "Yeah it was a bit hairy that night and I was gonna give you a call along with some of your other guys to see if you could come out to help with the Swiftwater work when it dawned on me that we were cut off and you couldn't get here anyway." He didn't really know how many rescues they did through the first rain period, just going from job to job like they were cellar pumps.
 I'm disgusted and burned out. I am re-evaluating what I am doing with my life. I don't think I can deal with the bullshit anymore. It took me all day just to get up the energy to write this post, and the only thing that is getting me through it is having some good bluegrass playing in the background to keep my conscious mind occupied.
 I've suspected for a while that I may have some of that PTSD stuff that they say builds up over time. I think this last event just pushed me over the edge. I have all the symptoms, short temper, mood swings, inability to concentrate, depression, the need to be alone, etc.. It's possible that I need a change of scenery. It's also possible that I'm done.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could say something inspirational. We've been thinking about you a lot, about the area around you. I know quite a few people near you.
    As we were watching the weather radar, and hoping for a break in the rain to save our butts, we knew that wishing the rain would move away from us meant it would be moving towards a lot of people who had already gotten more than their fair share.
    A lot of this is going to take a very long time to recover from. There are small towns that I don't think are going to recover.
    We'll be driving near/through your area next weekend- any chance of a brief stop to chat?
    I'm glad you finally got some rest. I was up for a 44-hour period and spent much of today recovering from that. I'm getting old, for sure.
    Facing a fair amount of work to clean up after flooding in my house, but really, what we got (ten inches of creek going through the downstairs) was nothing compared to so many others.