Volunteers were trickling in and out, I didn’t have any disaster preparedness presentations to conduct, and it seemed like any another Pacific Northwest winter day.
Some of us have the police scanner on in the background while we go about our work. Our Disaster Programs Specialist picked up a call about not one, not two, but three fires all happening at the same time in Everett. Two were commercial, one an apartment building. We patiently waited for the fire department to invite us to the scene. When the call came, the office sprang into action.
Two volunteers and myself took one of the Red Cross trucks to the South Everett fire. When we got there, the fire fighters were thoroughly picking through the apartment complex, making sure that there was no chance the flames would kick up again. Two three-year-old twins had already been rushed to the hospital and the rest of the residents were evacuated. After speaking to the fire chaplains and incident commander, we began interviewing the displaced people. Some were like stone, others weeping, and some adopted a dark sense of humor to cope.
This was my first time on a Disaster Action Team call, so I was struck by how thankful people were that we were there, even those that we didn’t help financially. We were there for a total of six hours and assisted 16 people.
This experience was like nothing else that I had done in my life, and it’s one that I won’t soon forget.