Assessing the Damage in Houston

Bobbi Snethen

Bobbi hails from Madison, WI, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she studied journalism and strategic communication. Following a stint as a freelance reporter, she served as a public relations professional in the nonprofit sector working to enhance community service through storytelling and online engagement.

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When we arrive on scene in the wake of disaster, we send out teams to introduce themselves to the affected community and assess the damage. This includes going door-to-door, explaining who we are and how we can help, and logging data about damaged properties so we can generate work orders and track our impact.

Army veteran Ryan Meader of Utah tackles this task with grace, and Operation Moonshot in Houston is his first deployment with TR.

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His first day out on an assessment team didn’t feel productive. They were evaluating a more affluent community who secured flood insurance after surviving multiple floods in the last decade. Ryan and his teammate acquired one work order that day.

The following morning, however, Ryan led a four-man assessment team to survey a neighborhood in Tomball that was hit with straight-line winds. Multiple trees were down, media was on site, and TR was among the first on site to learn how we could help (view the assessment via Facebook live).

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“Ninety percent of those we talked to in Tomball did not have insurance and were still in shock,” said Ryan. “It was good to get there early, even if we weren’t able to fix everything on the spot, there was an element of hope because to these homeowners, someone was there to talk to them and let them know what we were capable of.”

Part of conducting damage assessments is getting to know the community. Many times, residents who don’t need help will know someone who does, and our members will track down those who are most vulnerable in the area of operation.

“It’s a bit like a funnel. Knock on doors, talk to everyone, learn what sort of help is needed – muck out, debris removal, have they received any help yet – and log work orders so more strike teams can get out there and do the most good.”

By day three, Ryan was on a strike team mucking out homes and taking names.

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“I know why they say construction workers are some of the happiest people because you can see the work you’ve accomplished,” added Ryan. “The day goes fast and you don’t even realize how tired you are until the beer flag’s up.”


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