September 2000

Ignore the junk and keep on movin'

By Randy Eggen

Randy Eggen is the Judicial District Manager for the 29th District. Shortly after Hurricane Floyd, he and other probation/parole officers answered the call for help from the east and assisted in disaster relief efforts in eastern North Carolina. This is a partial account of his experiences.

Randy Eggen

Human nature, being what it is, allows us, or perhaps, affords us the ability with the passage of time to forget the bad and remember the good.

Last September, Hurricane Floyd ravaged the eastern part of North Carolina leaving entire communities in flood-submerged wreckage and chaos. The Division of Community Corrections began receiving requests for help from eastern North Carolina law enforcement. As those calls for help were relayed to DCC field offices, many probation officers volunteered to help in whatever capacity was needed.

Everywhere we went, it was the same scene -- residents' worldly possessions pulled from their destroyed homes and piled in front yards awaiting a trip to the landfill. Littering the landscape are empty diesel fuel tanks that floated up from the ground. Also, FEMA City grows from behind Fountain Correctional Center. The city is composed of row after row of camper trailers packed into a treeless gravel lot. But, for its citizens, FEMA City beats the gym floor at the shelter.

Toughest situation: 400 people living on gym floor. We went to a shelter one day for crowd control. How can people live this way? Children are running and screaming everywhere. Hazy-eyed adults mill around.

Our most embarrassing moment at a relief center: Unidentified officers from another agency cursing and generally trashing the local residents. Our personnel didn't want to be anywhere near them.

During late night shifts, we tried to get coffee out to the guys and, yes, to the women as well. Donít kid yourself, the women did not whine nearly as much as us guys. The only insulated urn had Kool-Aid in it earlier in the day. We were accused of serving hallucinogenic coffee, but they drank it anyway.

Suddenly, our deployment is over and the "fresh" replacements arrive. They are all looking at us and I can see the thoughts in their eyes. They think we all look like zombies and smell as though we have not bathed for a long, long time. All we could manage to say was, "Thank God, you are here."

We returned to Raleigh for a first nightís sleep and a real hot meal following a debriefing. Everyone stood a bit taller and a bit prouder. Kevin Wallace announced that he needed to know who can come back in a week for another seven-day deployment. A no brainer: yes we will return.

Lasting vision: Old man we talk to in Dodge City who is messing with a car that has been pulled out of a drainage ditch. "How ya doin?," we ask him.

He responds, "Doin' fine, just got to keep on movin." Yeah, we all need to " keep on movin" and ignore the junk in our lives.

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