A HOPEFUL JOURNEY
July 28, 2014

Hello Ogallala Commons community!

I have now completed three weeks at my internship with the Hutchinson County Disaster Relief Committee. I am involved with the community whose houses were partially or completely destroyed this past Mother’s Day in the Double Diamond and Meredith Harbor areas located in Fritch, Texas. Approximately 225 houses were involved with only 60 of those property owners submitting an application with the committee. The Hutchinson County Disaster Relief Committee was formed to help the victims involved in the tragedy. This disaster was very unfortunate and the community struggles with solving effective and feasible solutions for the families involved. Week 9 after the disaster was when I became involved and arrived very hopeful to help the community.

The first day I met with my supervisor, Dwight Kirksey, we discussed the responsibilities involved in my internship. The first two weeks consisted of having me contact victims seeking help through the initial applications submitted to the committee. I asked a series of questions about their status of rebuilding and their condition of their septic systems. If the property owners responded with being in need of a new septic system or repair, then we were able to continue the next step of completing the septic grant application. The documents needed to complete the application was to have the property owner bring proof of property ownership and their 2013 Income Tax. Many of their documents were burned in the fire, so this brought another obstacle. I was able to figure out a way to open their 2013 Income Tax online, which brought relief to those who had difficulty retrieving the document. There were approximately 40-50 completed applications with only 30 applications marked as priority ones by the committee. The next step to the process of receiving help with septic systems is having these applications reviewed by the state to provide funds for the victims involved in the fire.

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My next responsibility was to contact contractors willing to bid for 30 properties. The committee decided to hold a pre-bid meeting for the contractors interested to configure the best solutions for the applicants. Essentially the criteria for the winning contractor is low cost, while also it being the most feasible solution. After discussing the contractors interested with the committee, I was able to send the Request for Proposal for the contractors to review. After the pre-bid meeting, we receive the final bids by August 15th.

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Making copies, talking and empathizing with the victims, attending meetings, and doing research for grants may not sound like a lot of work, but you would be very surprised. As soon as I enter the building I either have someone there to speak to me or a message to call someone back. Just knowing that I am involved in making a difference in the community brings me joy. I have enjoyed this experience thoroughly and I hope to continue with great feedback. Ogallala Community I am beyond grateful and words cannot describe the emotions I contain my heart for this community. Thank you thank you!