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Disaster offers challenges and new experiences to intern

Posted on Nov 26, 2012
A UW-Superior student learns while helping others cope with disaster.
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Marie Moore

Marie Moore

A good internship offers new challenges and experiences. Marie Moore found plenty of both when her internship at the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross sent her to West Virginia to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Moore, an exercise science major from Osceola, Wis., is using her internship to gear her education toward a career in disaster relief. After Hurricane Sandy smashed into New Jersey and other Middle Atlantic states in late October, she was among Red Cross volunteers from around the country sent to the region to provide disaster relief.

For Moore, the assignment meant spending Nov. 3-13 working at "West Virginia Kitchen 2" based in the mountain town of Buckhannon. While that city was relatively unscathed, the blizzard spawned by Sandy left 80 percent of the homes in the surrounding rural areas without electricity needed for lighting, heating and cooking.

The 47 volunteers at Kitchen 2 were responsible for preparing and distributing thousands of emergency meals and snacks. In one area the snow was so deep that military vehicles accompanied the Red Cross cars and trucks to make sure they got through.

Moore's assignment involved the logistics of keeping the kitchen working. Her first task was a big one - finding a place for the relief workers to sleep. They used a motel for one night but it was booked for subsequent nights. By working the phones, Moore arranged to house the Red Cross workers in a nearby 4-H camp.

Another of her key responsibilities was keeping track of the 12 vehicles -- Red Cross trucks and additional rental cars -- that the relief workers used to carry meals to outlying distribution areas. Part of her job was to make sure the vehicles were available each day -- a mobile relief force can break down quickly if something occurs as simple as ignition keys not being turned in at night.

By the time the Kitchen 2 crew left Buckhannon, electric service had been restored to most of the region. During that time the Red Cross workers had distributed more than 23,000 meals and more than 28,000 snacks, including water.

For Moore, the experience exposed her to many new things and reinforced her career goals. She negotiated complex airline travel arrangements, worked alongside people from all over the country, and talked with other Red Cross volunteers about their work.

The experience also challenged her to turn weaknesses into strengths.

"I've never been a real organized person," she said. "So to juggle all the vehicles, where to be at the (food) drops, it was a challenge. I never made so many phone calls in my life. Not knowing the personnel and having to get things accomplished was different than what I was used to. I was talking to hundreds of people to get things accomplished."

Was it worth it?

"It was to me," she said. "It made me grow as far as organizational structure and being part of a larger organization. I've always been employed at small organizations; being part of a big organization broadened my scope."

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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