Volunteer: Shane Callcut
Zello Name: Bigfoot
City, State: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Disasters worked: Back half of Florence, Michael, California Wildfires
My first experience with a disaster was with Hurricane Katrina, when I volunteered to go down and help with cleanup and hand out supplies. It’s an experience I will never forget - the sights, sounds and smells. You can’t forget it. Then several disasters later, I began helping in the background. In 2011, I became a disaster survivor myself when we were flooded out and had nothing but the clothes on our backs. We went to work, and came home to nothing. After that, following the Joplin tornado, I started volunteering more locally to me, and it’s been an amazing experience ever since. This is my calling. It’s what I do.
I am currently the Zello Communications Director for both Cajun Navy Foundation and CrowdRelief. Basically, I direct all Zello radio traffic from our channels to the team members who can address the issues, questions and concerns. I keep the room free of spam and open to everyone in need of help. I try to offer a calm voice and give direction to those seeking assistance.
After Hurricane Michael, there were days when I had already been working 12 hours and still counting. It can be a bit chaotic, with so many volunteers needing vetting, others bringing supplies and many coming to be boots on the ground. There is always administrative work to be done, as well. It can be a challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of my favorite memories happened during Hurricane Florence. An elderly gentleman had been evacuated to shelter at a rec center, and it was at max capacity. He was alone and scared, and he posted his phone number in a post asking for help. He thought his apartment might be under water. I didn't know if I could reach him since so many lines were down, but I took a chance to reach out to him. He answered, and I was able to calm him down and give him reassurance. Long story short, his apartment did survive with minor flooding and FEMA helped him replace his eyeglasses. I really didn't feel like I was doing much for him, but I was glad he had someone to talk to during such a tragic and scary time.
As volunteers, we are everyday citizens saving lives and providing the relief resources necessary for those affected. From disaster to rebuild, we are there. We won’t stand down. I believe that the correct response to someone sharing a problem is not, “Everything’s going to be ok.” The correct response is, “I’m sorry. What can I do to help?”