In just a few short days, the Weather Channel was off focusing on new weather fronts, and CNN and the networks became engrossed with political debates and the war in Iraq. But for the son of a Charleston woman, the devastation of Hurricane Ivan has become much more personal.
John W. Hodges II, son of Anna Sue Hodges of Charleston, is a safety and occupational health specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers who was sent to the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan to help residents pick up the pieces and begin the long trek toward normalcy.
"I'm a quality insurance inspector working out of the Mobile District, where I go to the sites where the crews are removing debris stacked up by residents on the sides of the roads," explained Hodges. "I also make sure that all of the safety standards are being met and that all of the local, state and federal codes are being complied with."
More than 1,400 Army Corps of Engineers volunteers from across the nation are working under the FEMA umbrella to provide assistance in areas that range from providing ice and water services to temporary power installation, distributing self-help tarps, providing temporary roofing, debris removal, and temporary housing support that includes setting up travel trailers or larger mobile homes onto sites as temporary homes.
Members of the "Corps" provided quality assurance to hundreds of contractors and subcontractors providing repair and debris removal services throughout the hurricane-ravaged area. They also assisted volunteers with obtaining right-of-entry permission from residents who participate in "Operation Blue Roof." Programs Hodges feels are vital for the recovery of many communities in the region.
"It's really heart-warming to see the appreciation of the local residents," said Hodges. "Getting the debris removed from all of the affected areas throughout southern Alabama will go a long way to getting the region back to normal." When not involved with hurricane relief efforts, Hodges is with the Memphis District safety office. "I have quite a few responsibilities in the safety office, which include construction site safety inspector, district dive coordinator, drug program coordinator, CPR and first aid instructor and defensive driving instructor," said Hodges.
The Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2004 may spark a mild nod from most of us when we reminisce about violent storms of the past, but for Hodges and his fellow Army Corps of Engineer volunteers, the devastation of the past several months will become personal footnotes that will likely last a lifetime.