9/11, 811, AND RECOVERY

South Dakota will never see a hurricane – but two of our sister 811 facilities are now heavily involved in massive cleanups.

Texas has Harvey, and Florida has Irma.

Today’s blog is a triple.   First, it’s the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that left over 2,000 dead in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.   Ceremonies and events are being held across the United States to mark the event.   Many Americans remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news.  Others not yet born have grown up in the shadow of that day.  For all of us, it’s a time to remember, and reflect.  You’ll see another reference for 9/11 in just a moment.

Second, our hearts go out to those victims of Hurricane Irma and our friends and relatives in Florida.  At South Dakota One Call we are remembering Sunshine811 today as they work to help Florida recover.

In Texas, our sister 811 center Texas811 is doing their, part to help Houston recover.  Texas811 Director of Damage Prevention JimBob Sims was in the area recently to help with the cleanup.  He wrote down his thoughts on what he saw and did.

“The group picture is the group I met up and worked with. (note: JimBob is in the blue shirt kneeling behind the man with the dog at right) Most of them were from the Austin area, but there were people there from Houston, Lake Charles, LA, and also one gentleman from Missouri. I’m proud to now call them all friends. There were Petroleum Landmen, Investment Bankers, Pipe Layers, Construction Workers… Black, White, Brown… Women, Men… All equal… All unified… One Mission. Help your fellow brother and sister. The people we helped still don’t have a home to get into at night, but for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday, we reminded them that they didn’t have to go through this alone. There were people who loved them and cared about them.

The amount of devastation was nearly unfathomable to me… it was as emotional for me as viewing the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. I got there on Saturday morning and there were still people that were just standing in their yards like zombies. They didn’t know what had hit them.

The two days I was there, we helped 11 families and one church. We put temporary patches and tarps on roofs to try and keep any additional moisture out, and cut up and hauled trees out of yards. Trees, trees and more trees. Mosquitos physically the size of your thumbnail. They laughed at insect repellent. I had mosquito bites in places I can’t mention. I have no idea how they could have got into those places. You just worked through it. Hot and humid. I haven’t physically worked like that it in probably 25 years. My body was sore this morning… But my heart felt good.

I received countless hugs, heard endless thank you’s and can’t remember when I was more proud of being a Texan. Quite possibly the most rewarding 2 days I’ve ever spent in my life.”

There is really little else to say after reading JimBob’s account.  Help is still needed, and will be for some time to come.

Finally, from the 811 “call before you dig” perspective, if you are working in the hit areas, PLEASE call 811 before you do anything.   This message is from Texas811 President Chris Stovall:

“Hurricane Harvey has passed and recovery efforts from the unprecedented flooding and devastation are underway. The overwhelming response from across the nation and the eagerness to help Texas recover is nothing short of awesome. I am writing to encourage a safe recovery by reminding everyone to call 811 prior to digging. 

We have received reports of major transmission lines being cut by well-meaning response teams hoping to help the recovery effort. A call to 811 prior to excavation related recovery work will greatly reduce the risk of damage to critical infrastructure and ensures the safety of those working to rebuild. Our center is equipped to handle emergency locate requests, which in many cases will expedite the process. 

Please remember to keep Texas safe as we work to repair the damage caused by the storm. Call 811 or visit us online at www.texas811.org. “

Stay safe, everyone.  Until next week, safe digging.

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