Since getting let go from Wavelink back in February of 2008, I had been working part-time and struggling with bills. I was 2 or 3 months behind on my car payment and my rent to my landlords - my best friend Del and his wife Kim, who had treated me like family. I was getting depressed but I wasn't motivated bad enough to get more work. I guess you could say that being miserable was my comfort zone, if that makes any sense.
On September 13th, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston, TX. Because I wanted to help the people in Galveston and I needed to make some good money to get caught up on bills, I did some searching at Google.com and Houston's Craigslist for Hurricane Ike security jobs. I applied for a couple of security jobs down there. A company called Classic Security which was a subcontractor for Corporate Security Solutions (C.S.S. - the contractor that has the contract with F.E.M.A.) offered me a job. Chris Wilden, my instructor for my bodyguard course, told me that I shouldn't work for C.S.S. He explained that while he was doing security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, some guys that were hired by C.S.S. quit working for C.S.S. and came to work for the company that he was working for. They told him that C.S.S. gets you to come down to the disaster area for work but might not have work for you right away. While you're waiting to be put on a post, you don't get paid. After he told me that, I decided not to go.
About a week later, I talked to Mike (the one from my church that took the bodyguard course with me) and Jim, one of the Associate Pastors at my church, Calvary Chapel S.L.C. Mike told me that I should take advantage of the opportunity to work down there. Jim prayed with me and told me that he thought it would be a good opportunity for me to make some money and get caught up on bills. I called C.S.S. and Classic Security back and asked them about standby pay. They both told me that I would be getting paid 8 hours per day for every day that I was on standby waiting to get put on a job site. I called my Aunt Beverly, told her about the opportunity, and asked her if she could buy me a ticket for a flight down to Houston. She did buy me a round trip ticket and I was very grateful. The day before my flight to Texas, I pawned my computer and my gun (they told me that I wouldn't need it because they were going to issue me a gun) to pay some bills. I assumed that I would make enough money to get them out when I got back from Texas. The night before my flight left, I ran into Trent, who was one of the owners of Club Exchange when I worked there, and told him that I was going down to Houston to do security for F.E.M.A. He offered to rent me a car through his corporate account if I could pay him back when I got back. I thanked him for that.
On Friday, October 10th I flew down to Houston, TX. After I got my rental car, I went to the C.S.S. office in Houston to check in. They sent me down to the F.E.M.A. camp at Galveston where I waited to be posted. The F.E.M.A. camp was a big tent city. There was one huge tent where almost everyone (male and female) slept. It was a bunch of us security guys, a few guys that worked for the company responsible for making credentials for everyone at the camp, some F.E.M.A. employees, some AmeriCorps people, some Salvation Army and Red Cross people, and some people that were with various Christian organizations. There were some smaller tents where some ladies were able to sleep and get more privacy. There was another tent for the cafeteria, a couple of trailers for us to take showers in, some trailers with sinks and mirrors along the side, a tent for the laundry service, and a bunch of porta-pottys. In addition to all of that, they also had a TV tent (with satellite TV and a DVD player), a workout tent, and an internet tent (with computers and a wireless connection). This tent city was at a small airport in Galveston, which is a small town on an island off of the coast of Texas. Galveston was ruined by Hurricane Ike.
I met some awesome people while I was down there. Cal, who was with the company that made credentials for everyone at the camp, is a cool Christian guy, former Green Beret, and writer. There was another cool guy that worked for the same company as Cal but I don't remember his name. I met some great Christian men and women that were there with a Christian organization that helped men and women get their lives back on track. They served us in the cafeteria. I went to a local church with some of the guys from that group. I met a great lady named Dolly who I met in the internet tent. I helped her set up an email account and showed her how to use it because she was new to computers. She was down there volunteering with the Salvation Army.
After being on standby for 6 days and being passed up for job postings which were filled by people hired directly by C.S.S. (cheaper for them than paying a sub-contractor to pay me), I was told that I wouldn't be getting standby pay. I called both Classic Security and C.S.S. on the 7th day to ask why they weren't paying me standby pay like they both told me they would. They both just passed the buck - Classic Security said they couldn't pay me if C.S.S. didn't pay them and C.S.S. said that their policy changed after I went down there. Classic Security also told me that C.S.S. was closing job sites and letting people go. Since Trent had rented me a car on his corporate account and I wasn't going to be paid, I couldn't afford to continue to pay for a rental car while not making any money so I decided to cut my losses and come home the next day. The last 3 days that I was there I went with Dolly and handed out meals with the Salvation Army. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve. So I came back to Utah more broke than when I went down there, owing Trent for the rental car, and didn't have enough money to get my computer and gun out of the pawn shop. Having seen people that were homeless because of Hurricane Ike, I couldn't really feel sorry for myself but I definitely wasn't happy.