I’m back from a few weeks in Joplin. While there, I did several different jobs, including working the missing persons hotline, working in the field doing debris cleanup, and working in a warehouse, sorting pallets of loose donations into different categories which were boxed, palletized and sent to relief agencies for distribution.

Physically, the hardest part was working in the field. Now, I’ve lived in the high desert for almost a decade. I know how to work in hot conditions at high altitudes. But this was different, and it was throwing me off. When you’re working in the desert, it’s all about keeping hydrated. Exhaustion or dehydration are the first walls you hit. But after working about a week in the field, the first wall I hit was neither of those. I simply ran out of strength. But I’ve been trained through years of being in the desert that when you run out of speed, you need to hydrate more. So I’d drink even more water, which wouldn’t help. (Indeed, to a fault itself. Yes, you can over-hydrate.)

Still, it was a rewarding experience. It was a drop in the bucket; Joplin will require years to fully recover. But I felt I made a difference. After a few weeks, I drove back home, stopping in SLC along the way to visit a few friends. (The old company has an office in SLC, so I said hi and had lunch with a few current and former coworkers.)