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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rescue by committee

God save me from ineffective bureaucrats, particularly the volunteer varietal! Today’s saga, which left me fighting not to either throttle said ivb or cry tears of frustration:

Phoned Lyttelton council member offering help, went to Diamond Harbour Civil Defence Sector Post to offer help.

Moi: “I can do many things - hammer nails, wash dishes, do computer work. My specialty is communications and I have my computer with me. Do you want or need a website for information or a database of what’s available.”

Them: “You’re a Godsend. Someone is setting up a website if you can put information on it. 

Until then, we do have some dishes …”

So, learn where water is located, write explanatory signs for tanker (water needs boiling before drinking for instance), water heater (“Do Not Use”), start dishes, with helper.

Supervisor comes with phone, person setting up website on other end, gives phone to me, “Please set it up between you.” Dish helper becomes dish intern, sorry Brian. Get site info, set up computer and web access (not easy), try to find site. Can’t, but host seems aggressively Christian (nothing against Christians other than a preference for those most resembling Christ in attitude), think neutral would be more approachable. Speak to setter-upper (yes, I know that is not a word but I am tired) who directs me to link, link needs blog name and password to even view. Explain to supervisors why this unnecessarily complicated procedure is counter-productive and get permission to set up on simpler site host.

Type relevant information for distribution, have it checked and approved, print flyers and post on site. Endure long butt-covering debates.
e.g. Water at a premium, initially asked to give bucket toilet and disposal advice. Simple, clear, have used similar methods myself often. vib then decided did not want to be responsible for giving wrong information so instructed me to remove any reference to toileting. Sorry, what? National Emergency declared and the local Civil Defence willfully refuses to address the issue of what to do with body waste when water is scarce – to me, that is close to criminally negligent. If you don’t have the cojones to do the job, step aside for someone who does.

Ask whether contact info for volunteers, resources, services can go on web site, with permission from those offering/asking so to cover privacy issues, get told yes, please. Delegate checking of facts/availability/willingness to be listed on website to additional interns, input data, answer phone (single line so become phone nazi – don’t let anyone tie it up too long), connect people with people they needed – all very time-consuming. Ask approval of all actions every step of the way (tho not necessarily of methods, just results)

Many, many hours later . . .

Shift change, ivb returns, shift change debrief. ivb comes to view site, notes that I’ve been busy, then tell me to undo most of what I’d spent the day doing (with CD approval for each step). ivb tells me that all connections between volunteers and those needing help MUST go through CD personnel. Remember, single phone line only. Start deleting last 8 hours work. Do not break down, do have group hug with interns, do offer to return tomorrow.

Same Bat-time (especially for Christy), same Bat-channel

By the way, thanks Mars for the karakia and for introducing me to Rauamoko, he slept well last night, as did we

Kia ora, kia kaha Christchurch

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