Ahead Of Irma, Disaster Response Groups Gather In Grand Prairie

GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – At its national operations center in Grand Prairie, members of Team Rubicon are tired, and stretched thin. While still dealing with cleanup from Hurricane Harvey though, they are figuring out how to respond to the next pending catastrophe on the east coast.

Shipments of radio and batteries are coming in. Lists of tools are hanging up, as new kits are prepared for the next groups to go out. Computer monitors flash with the latest storm tracks as operations teams are watching weather around the clock.

“Resources are strained,” said CEO Jake Wood. “There’s only so much gear. There’s only so much equipment that we have. We are sourcing everything we need to make sure we can open up a second front in Florida if necessary.”

The California-based non-profit formed in 2010 when Wood was part of a group of eight veterans and first responders who traveled to Haiti after an earthquake hit the country. Now it sends small teams with the same skills around the world to disaster zones, assessing damage and cleaning up.

It has more than 200 volunteers on the Texas coast right now, and another 500 providing support. Now the organization has to replicate that response, on another coastline.

“We’re already exceeding what our current operational capacity, what we thought it was,” said regional manager Joseph Messerre. “And we’re still able to keep doing that and exceeding it and exceeding it.”

While still monitoring requests for cleanup help from Harvey, he’s also mapping locations of team leaders to the east.

“So if it makes landfall or has damage in certain areas, we can deploy teams the fastest,” he said.

Teams are tired, Wood said, fueled by caffeine. In an unprecedented situation, however, they’re doing what they have to, understanding it’s far worse for the people they’re trying to help.

“We have to accept imperfection right now,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re working with imperfect solutions and just be as tenacious as we can in delivering outcomes on the ground. That’s what it is.”

More from Jason Allen

Watch & Listen LIVE