Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


FEMA and Me, Before a Storm, daily painting by Everglades Artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Before a Storm, 2012, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 7"x5"

Truth be known, they had me at the word "hurricane."  For over 20 years I was a FEMA disaster reservist, part of a well-trained cadre that was called up to fill out the ranks of a small national staff when a natural disaster struck our nation.  Paid, too! 

I learned to be able to pick up the word "hurricane,"  "flood", or "tornado"  out of any newscast, even if I wasn't particularly listening.  Upon hearing the words, my priorities would change and I would go into "maybe leaving soon" mode.  I would cancel any appointments, get some cash, do the wash, and find my suitcase.  I would clean my palette, and not start anything new.

Sometimes I had to leave home and hearth in a matter of hours.  I might be deployed to a Governor's office, or a State Emergency Operations Center, or straight into the field to lead a damage assessment team.  Conditions were sometimes challenging, and the job always was.

Being a FEMA reservist is not for everyone. Flexible is the name of the game. You might get a flight to go to Boston, and then find you had been switched to Charlotte. OK, roll with it. Over the years I held jobs in Human Resources, Public Information, and Hazards Mitigation. I loved it.

Times have changed, and FEMA is now part of Homeland Security.  Programs have evolved and policies are different then when I served.  Still, weather words throw me into a tizzy of anticipation that can only be quenched back at my easel, with of course. an ear to the weather!

Hope to see you at ArtWalk tonight.  The shell postcards are 4"x6" and will be on sale for $10 each, on a first come first served basis.  If you need to do it long distance, email me before 5 p.m. and describe the ones you want.  Thanks!   

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