I went to the Disaster Recovery seminar today in Portland, ME. I had to get up at 6:00 am which is about 8 hours earlier than I usually do (or so it felt). Then I drove for two and a half hours, arriving about 15 minutes early.

The seminar itself was pretty interesting. There were a lot of people I know from other Pathfinder clubs, but I was the only one there not from Maine. The first thing they did was take our pictures so they could issue us ID cards (they will mail them out). That will get me into a disaster zone should the need arise.

I think the main message I took away from the seminar is that there are some things that are irresistible for donors to donate, but which are absolutely not needed. Chief among these is water and used clothing.

Water is not needed because pretty much all the disaster response teams in the US have agreements in place with beer bottlers. They can (and do) supply bottled drinking water by the truckload at a moment’s notice.

Used clothing is not critical either. First, it represents a huge burden to the agencies that warehouse it, because before it can be useful, it has to be sorted by size, sex, and season – that’s a lot of piles. Doing that work takes a lot of time, and frequently, the clothing isn’t needed at ground zero anyhow. There have been disasters where getting rid of excess clothing was a major problem – neither Goodwill nor Salvation Army would take it.

At the end of the seminar I had to take a test which I’m pretty sure I aced. That’s the requirement for getting the badge which should arrive in the mail sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Our conference Disaster Response Coordinator asked me if I would be willing to attend VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) meetings in NH, and I said I would. I hope I don’t regret that!

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