By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2012 —
Americans waited with bated breath as Hurricane Isaac rolled in through the Gulf of Mexico and struck shore. Norwood resident Jerry Frappier has been on scene in Hattisberg, Miss. since Tuesday as part of the American Red Cross relief effort. Hattisburg is about 60 miles off of the Gulf Coast.
Frappier said that luckily in Hattisberg they hadn’t suffered through any flooding yet, though, they have experienced rains so heavy as to prevent clear visibility from any distance. Also, 15 to 20 mph winds hit the area.
Frappier is working out of the American Red Cross Headquarters facility where they processed more than 800 people in two days. It is also the largest such Red Cross facility in the country. The headquarters has 84 emergency response vehicles dispatched to aid in the relief. Frappier is working with the overhead staff organizing the effort. The Red Cross has 2,300 people in 28 different shelters, all of which was set up in three days. The facility is helping out all over southern Mississippi, even reaching as far over as Louisiana.
“I’m in awe at the amount of material coming through here. I’m amazed at how they keep track of everything,” Frappier said.
According to Frappier, in addition to the manual laborers working with the effort delivering food and water, there are computer operations specialists that are there for trouble shooting and customer service personnel issuing technology for Red Cross volunteers to utilize.
“I’m working 14 hour days, but there are only two of us here in networking,” said Frappier.
“I’m retired, this is my motivation. I have skills in state-of-the-art technology that are crucial to these efforts. We’re setting up communications and networking, serving 160 people here. We put it up in three days. This type of effort isn’t present in commercial operations,” said Frappier.
“It depends on the time of day,” said Frappier when asked what the emotional atmosphere there was like.
“Yesterday was bad; we processed 400 people. I’m exhausted.”
Though still not as bad as Katrina, Hurricane Isaac has got everyone at the Red Cross bustling.
“The biggest issue for us here is space. It’s limited. Everybody is crowding around; there’s no elbow room,” Frappier said.
Despite the hardships everyone there is facing from the storm, Frappier was pleased to report, “We’re working as a team here at the American Red Cross. This is the only place where so many A-type personalities can work together so well. Because we’re a team we can do incredible things for these people who are in need.”
Frappier will be aiding with the American Red Cross relief effort for the next four weeks.