Photo by Matt Marton/HTR
Well, many visitors have been asking, "where'd that web site come from?", and "why is
someone making us a web page for some storm"?
It all started hearing the local sirens go off as
First Responder Units were called to assist at St. Nazianz, from our equally
small little Village of Cleveland. That was followed by a day of volunteer work
heading up a chainsaw crew, working security, and doing anything I could see
that would be helpful. A digital camera at my side, I snapped a lot of
pics, thinking I would e-mail them to a few friends. As the day went
along, I realized this was more to me, and to everyone involved in any way, than
a few pictures to share. This was the hearts of people over a huge area,
showing their losses and their stamina.
By the time I got home, and then to my office, I had
decided the best way to share the experience wasn't by sending out a few pics,
but rather by creating a website. A web site would allow some commentary
and let locals as well as distant contacts see what had affected all of
us. At 10PM I published the first pics and info, and then emailed a few
friends to tell them it was available. By midnight it had 150 hits.
Sunday things settled in more, if 'settle in' is a way
to say it. I had to do more.... Monday noon I received approval from
the acting supervisor for the county emergency response team to be the 'Official
Web Site', that meant I would have to separate the unofficial from the
official, and would be funneled all press releases, announcements, and status
reports. They had to be published as quickly as possible, from a command
center that didn't have an Internet connection, from an area with no phone lines
working. I opted to drive back and forth the 15 miles to my office which
wasn't hit by the storm. As I worked to rebuild it and add the new
information, the Command Center was having a media meeting, and among other
things gave the name of the official site to the press. At 2pm it started
to appear on TV, and the name "saintnazianz.homepage.com" was bannered
for much of the evening news.
I've been in the computer and software design business
for many years. Only once did I remember having to work under such time
pressure, that was when..... oh it doesn't matter.... I got that going.... and I
got this web site running smoothly. In it's first 5 days of operation I
spent about 80 hours on it, while trying to continue with my regular
business. In the first week of 'public' access it received 3100 visits
from people wanting to learn, see, or understand.
So why would anyone want to do all this as a
volunteer? First of all my efforts seemed minor next to those of everyone
that was hit, and compared to all the emergency staff, contractors, and other
volunteers. Secondly tho, I felt the people of the area needed a tool to
reinforce their own sense of community, and that it would be a good way for all
of us to start to heal. The wounds and trauma are deep, it will take time,
and it will take sharing to recover. Hopefully this site in its own way
assists with that.
Several have said "well the people who lost their
homes aren't on the computer anyway". True in the beginning, but
remember most people went to stay with family or friends, many of whom were
on-line and looking for news. Since then I've received notes from
relatives of St. Nazianz residents in England and all across this country who
have seen the pics and can now be fully supportive of those damaged and working
on recovery. I would appreciate hearing where you're from, and either why
or how you found the information helpful.
It has been a complete pleasure to offer this service
and to assist in my own ways.
So.... as a systems analyst, now I am putting together
what's needed in a concept plan and equipment to let myself and co-workers move
to disasters anywhere in the US, providing fail-proof Internet based relief
solutions for governmental organizations, non-profits, and emergency response
teams. If you are such a group, we are now accepting applications for
retainer contracts that could assure our fast and effective response to your future
disaster.... it's just a matter of time you know. Proper advance
planning combined with a dynamic web site with e-communication is the most
effective and affordable approach available for widespread information
I hope you've found this web site helpful, I'd like to
hear your ideas and insights, and I hope to
hear from you!
Click on pic at top of page to review
the informative Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter article about this site
published June 5, 2000