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people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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children of dune - leto 1
This isn't about Katrina.

Yesterday, our office got the scouting party version of the Katrina escapees who ended up in Austin. Houston is getting the huge group from Louisiana stadium, but apparently, designated shelters have been set up throughout the state, including a rumor of a fairly large one in San Antonio.

So yesterday, it was twenty five of them, today eighty-two. That isn't a lot, comparatively speaking, to say, Houston or Dallas--it just doubled our current workload and we pulled trainers and supervisors into active interviewing--that was fun, because most haven't interviewed in a *decade*. Except we got freaked at the realization that Houston's office would be dealing with *thirty thousand*, at a minimum, nto counting the people who aren't part of that bulk group.

To give you an idea--there is an average of twenty-thirty interviewing workers per office in a city above about a 100,000. Even with our drastically shortened protocol--and I mean, right now, disaster protocol is basically having an ID to get benefits--you can't do more than two to four an hour, at *best*. Houston has, in all its offices, at best, one hundred to one hundred fifty people who can approve benefits. That is if we pull *everyone* from doing *anything else*, including normal certifications and recertifications, childrne's medicaid, supplemental nutritional programs, all the multiple Medicaids that don't fall under elderly and disabled, not to mention the people who work on elderly foodstamp certification.

To recap this--in teh entire state, we have probably less than three thousand people who are capable of distributing benefits, and almost all of them are doing the work of two people right now, just to keep the system relatively stable as is. And I really, realy, really have no idea how we're going to do this. To be honest, I'm not sure we have enough computers to do it. I'm not sure the computers can run as much as they might need to, since as of today, overnight processing has been suspended and possibly the mandatory back-ups as well. And well, the state buys sucky computers.

So, the Commissionner has set two things into effect. One, all Katrina escapees get same day service, so we do shut our doors until the last one is certified, which according to what I heard over the grapevine, was processing went on until nine last night at some offices. Second, Saturday and Monday are now workdays. We aren't required to come in. We are just encouraged to do so if necessary. Same policy on same day service applies.

No one refused. No one even *winced*.

I'm proud of my agency right now. I mean, not the Commissioner or the upper levels of the bureaucracy. It's easy to make a rule when you don't have to deal with it later.

I'm proud of my *people*, my coworkers, who were still working when I left at six-fifteen to get the Lone Star cards out and instructing clients where to go to use them. I'm proud because if they had to, they were there until nine last night and came in at seven this morning. I'm proud because doing two to three interviews an hour is *murderous*, and they did it for eight hours straight and some skipped lunch to keep going to keep up our current workload and intergrate the extra people in. I'm proud because the first thing they did when they heard what Houston would have to deal with was to *make sure they'd been designated as volunteers*, so if they were needed, they'd be ready to go. I'm so proud that when I walked by offices today, they were talking to every escapee, letting them talk out whatever they'd gone through, and that they didn't watch the clock for the end of the day, when half the people in this office aren't even eligible for their own jobs come January.

I can't name them, and they'd probably *step on me* if I tried to express to them how utterly amazed I am that they can keep up this pace and be perfectly calm when looking to a weekend that won't be free, because I don't think a single one sees this as anything other than their duty, their--vocation. They're employees of the state, and for them, this is what they *do*, what we are, what we're trained to do, now just to do a lot of it very, very, very fast.

I'm not sure if they'll be remembered, so I thought here, I'd remember for them.

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God bless you and your teams, Jen. We're coping with the Mississippi issues at work, and a ton of extra load on all the computers/agents who work TX as of today, as well. Thank god for people like you guys -- these folks we talk to on the phone are so desperately in need of help, and you are giving it.

God bless you and them. It is surely needed.

thank you for sharing this. these are so often the things that can make all the difference for ppl in these situations, and yet rarely get discussed.

curious: do you at all handle benefits for people w/ HIV? (i know a number of folks working on the big-picture policy level to make sure your folks are ALLOWED to waive various rules so ppl can get what they need...

[via friendsfriends]

Yay, thanks for posting this. It's really heartening to see that there ARE people who care, there ARE people who are working to make things better, there ARE people who are giving everything they've got to help those who have nothing left. Yay for you and your co-workers.

If you get a chance to convey thanks, for those of us who are too far away and can't do anything tangible beyond donate money, please do so. This makes me a little weepy, but in the best possible way, especially after watching the situation in New Orleans deteriorate so quickly.

God bless you.

And, heads up, for what it's worth. I don't know if you're near a tv right now but about ten minutes ago (12:15am Friday eastern) but if anyone should know, you should.

Austin promised 25,000 sheltered at astrodome. At the moment, the fire marshal has had them close their doors at 8,000 (they just reported) and are sending them elsewhere. From the videos I've seen of those 8000 already carpeting the floor, it's probably a good idea.

So, um. Take your vitamins and I'm praying for your strength right now. Good luck. Those who make their living helping those in need are in for a hell of a ride.

Y'all don't ever get paid enough, and I know you're all overworked, but I'm really glad that you're there and can help. Thanks.

{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}} to you and all of your coworkers. thank you.

Bless you, hon. I know our local government is trying to mobilize what help we can send down, but I'm afraid we're too far away. Be strong!

Okay, reading this has me all choked up. I've told everyone I know about it. Is there any way to make donations to your office and offices like yours? Nobody thinks about the welfare of nonprofit groups who're having to shoulder work like that.

Bless all the hardworking people trying to help. And bless you extra, for reminding us.

It's amazing what people will do in a crisis. Everyone remembers the looting, but they should also remember the workers that carry on doing what has to be done.

Good for you and your co-workers!

I work for the Government in the UK, and I've been awed and impressed for years at the levels of dedication and scrupulousness of the people around me. Not every one is an angel, but a hell of a lot of them are. They're honest and responsible and committed and hard-working and patient, they get paid shit, and senior management and politicians and the press and the public happily slag them off at the drop of a hat. And I'm pretty sure it's the same where you are.

So, thank you for posting this, and thank you to you and your colleagues for doing the good things. So much terrible news coming out of Katrina, but the good efforts and un-sung endless humanity shouldn't be lost. I'll remember, because you wrote this up.

I'd wondered how you all, Houston in particular, were going to handle that.

*hugs* to all of you.

Thank you.

Thank you for your dedication, for being one of those who step in to do what must be done

Thank you for taking the time to appreciate your co-workers, and for sharing that appreciation with us.

Please accept my (religion-neutral) prayers and good wishes, and again, my thanks for all that you (and those like you) do.

I applaud you and your coworkers. They have steped up to the plate and are doing what they can to help in this horrible diaster.

Think about your workflow for a moment. Is there anything you could use volunteers for, do you think? Any drudge work that untrained but office-competant people could do, so that you trained people can focus on what needs most to be done?

If your supervisors are willing, I could post a call for volunteers on dailykos.com. Or even redstate.org, but they're less likely to be helpful IMO.

I'd forgotten that "everything is bigger in Texas" also refers to the hearts of its citizens. Y'all rule.

How wonderful, in the midst of all the awfulness this disaster has produced, to hear about good people doing not only their part but MORE than their part to help those in need. I'm truly touched (even though I'm no where near the disaster) and thank you and your coworkers for making the world a better place. *hugs*

Amazing... just amazing. *squeeze*

Some days I am just really proud to be Texan, y'know?

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