Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mission Trip to Graham County

Wednesday about 1 pm, I got a call from the Eddie Caldwell, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, informing me of the headlines above.  The Sherrif's Office there was operating outside from under a tarp on the sidewalk.  My mind went back to the scenes etched in my memory from being in Haiti following the earthquake.  When told me that they "don't have any computers or printers", I immediately contacted my technicians and asked for help collecting equipment to deliver on Thursday so that we could get them up and running, protecting the citizens of Graham County. EVERY client we contacted offered what they had. They are listed at the end of this posting. I called the Sheriff to ask about the quantity needed, and immediately knew I was helping a brother in Christ.  The music that played during the ringing was from Sidewalk Prophets 2009 hit "The Words I would Say".  The phrase that played was...
"Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,

(It was also his ringtone that I later heard frequently while working in Robbinsville.) Hal Overman came over at 10:30 pm and we started assessing what we had.  We swapped hard drives, added hard drives, video cards, CD Rom drives and cleaned up about a dozen PCs.  Still awake and working at 6:30 a.m., we were ready to load Eddie Caldwell's Tahoe for the nearly 6 hour trip to Robbinsville.
Sheriff Moody had already secured an abandoned Wachovia Bank building from it's owner, so we arrived about 12:30 to unload what we brought.  Inmates from the county jail were there to help with lifting, moving and cleaning.  We identified work areas, still without furniture, and I began to setup PCs.  By 5:00, we had several key workstations up and running on the internet, but continued to work until about 10:00 pm.  After a good night's sleep, Eddie and I headed back for the new Sheriff's office.  We worked late into the afternoon, finding out late in the day that the County Commissioners, several of whom were lame ducks after losing their primary elections, were refusing to allow the County I.T. Director to help us.  We were on our own.  Buncombe County asked what they could do for us and we now were in need of a server.  The NC Highway Patrol ferried a new server from Asheville down to us that arrived about 1:00 a.m Saturday morning.  I spent the night installing software and configuring printers.  Without leaving the office overnight, (they left me a Glock 9mm because the suspected arsonist was still on the loose) I finished the server.  Saturday was spent configuring and testing printers, scanners and fax machines. The overnight deputy on his way out said, "Well, I'm heading on back to the reservation."  This was a true statement.  He's a Cherokee Indian and that's where he lives.  All my life, I'd heard that phrase spoken figuratively, but never literally until now.

Random pictures below are self explanatory.  Let me say how encouraged I was to see Sheriffs from neighboring counties come to the aid of Graham County, population about 12,000.  Supplies and people showed up from as far away as Brunswick (Wilmington), Tyrrell, Gates, Rockingham and Johnston Counties.  Nearby counties, Cherokee, Swain, Buncombe, Jackson, Clay and others showed up as well.  It was a great story about Sheriffs helping Sheriffs, neighbors helping neighbors. 

In the perspective of life that I have from having served as a missionary in the Domincan Republic and Haiti, it reminded me of the phrase, "Charity begins at home".  I couldn't help but respond and know that God put the right people in place to allow me to be a small part of helping this little county with a total population equal to about the number of High School Students that live in Cary.

Thanks to all of those businesses that donated technology items.  What didn't get used here, will be prepared for another trip to help another Sheriff's Office.  (Next time we won't wait for a disaster.  Our plan is to identify disadavantaged offices that need upgrades and install equipment sometime this summer.)

Some equipment was accumulated from clients who just give us equipment to prevent it from being thrown away.

The only surving computer below was across the hall from the main fire.  It was full of soot and ash.

If you see this tag, say hi to Sheriff Moody for me!

My overnight protection!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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- Murk