There is a saying in St. Louis that “if you don’t like the weather wait an hour, it will change.” This certainly came to fruition when just one day after taking my son to the park on a beautiful 50 degree day the biggest flood since 1993 hit the St. Louis area.
I live a few hours west of St. Louis, but was in town visiting family for Christmas celebrations Dec. 23rd-Jan 3rd. While watching Christmas movies at my parents’ house word got out that the levee at Dardenne Creek failed. Homes less than a mile from where I sat were under water. Interstates 70, 44, 55 began shutting down. My soon to be brother-in-law’s phone began buzzing with photos of his childhood friends’ homes standing feet from the water.
In the next several days, countless images of flood waters swallowing homes, schools, and churches were displayed on the evening news. I felt helpless and eagerly talked with the CLDR team to discuss the need for deployment. One of the biggest things I’ve learned since beginning this initiative to get child life specialists involved in disaster relief, is that it takes time to assess, coordinate, and deploy disaster relief services. I’ve also learned how essential careful collaboration and coordination of services is in order to provide the most effective services to those greatest in need. And so…I impatiently (I’ve never been known for my patience) waited for a deployment alert.
On Monday, January 4th, I received an e-mail from Children’s Disaster Services(CDS), stating there was a “possible” deployment to St. Louis for the flooding and asking what my availability might be in the next two weeks. With the support of my husband, I began seeking child care options for the next week. The very next day that “possible” turned into a “need” and I was notified that I would be deployed the following Monday and Tuesday, January 11-12th. With a week to plan, I was able to finish my class preparations for the courses I would begin teaching the week after deployment. Having the time to complete some things prior to leaving definitely helped me to be prepared and mentally present during my deployment.
This opportunity was also unique, as it was a local response, not national. Only CDS volunteers within a certain proximity to St. Louis were being sought due to the assessed short-term need. As a wife, mother, and full-time doctoral student the likelihood of me being able to do a 2-week national deployment was slim. Therefore, this local 2-day deployment was just the perfect fit!
Stay tuned for future post(s) as I continue to reflect on my time being deployed!
Certified Child Life Specialist