A First Responders Perspective

Spending the last fifteen years as a traveling to natural disaster sites around the country, I am often asked the question, “Isn’t terrible to do the work you do, with having to see all that destruction?”


Seeing the aftermath of  tornados and hurricanes does change you. It makes you humble to power of Mother Nature. It makes you take warnings and watches seriously. It makes you have a disaster plan, and check your insurance policy to make sure everything is in line.  Most of all, it makes you believe in the inherit goodwill of humanity.

The people who pass each other on the street, and normally do not even look at each other because of the day to day craziness of life, are the same people handing out extra clothes to others around them that lost their homes. Seeing your community in peril tends to bring out the best the people. Sure, I have seen scam artist, thieves and the ungrateful take advantage of the situation, but there have been many, many more examples of selfless acts.

Not only are there all the people who live where the storm hit, but the thousands who come from across the country to help. Utility workers and tree removal companies hurry from their home states to disasters and work  long tiring shifts around the clock. Teams of Veterans volunteer with organization such as Team Rubicon come to the sites to offer muscle, organization and supplies. Hundreds of Red Cross workers answer questions long into the night trying to offer some relief to those in shock and confused.

So the answer is “No, it is not terrible to do disaster work.”  No one can change the weather, but we can make a difference to those we are there to help. 

Helping people put their lives back together is the biggest perk of my job. I earn a living by providing a sense of relief and peace through installing roof tarps.  No longer are my customers up all night with buckets trying to collect the water.  They are at least dry. Rebuilding can be a long process that happens one step at a time.  It is a great feeling to be able to help by suppling roof tarps.