Unprecedented: 'An event unlike anything I have ever seen'

Monday, July 2, 2018
Technical operations unit, Kriegspiel's team will be the center of a program at the Spencer Public Library focusing on its disaster relief efforts following the 2017 hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The team's commander, Eddy Weiss, will lead the presentation detailing the relief efforts which lasted from August 2017 until February 2018.
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2017 hurricane season, first responders offer first-hand accounts

For commander of the disaster relief technical operations unit, Krielspiel, Eddy Weiss said, the efforts of relief workers, from near and far, after the 2017 hurricane season was unlike anything he had ever been a part of in his career. Weiss took inspiration from these events, triggering a documentary and book. He will share his experiences at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, at the Spencer Public Library during the program "The Definition of Unprecedented."

"I think it was even rarer than once in a lifetime," Weiss said. "I don't know if I learned anything new as a professional, but it changed the way I see people. Over the years, I had started to think that everyone hated everyone and that was the new normal. What I realized through this is that what made this country amazing still exists."

Weiss is part of an Iowa-based team that responds to disaster and emergency needs on a full-time basis. When his team was deployed to the Texas Gulf in August 2017, they started as a team of four and, before the efforts concluded in February 2018, they had become a force of as many as 100 volunteers.

"I pushed for it really hard because it was about how people sit down their personal interests to become something bigger than themselves," Weiss said. "The unity, cooperation and collaboration we saw by these volunteers was unlike what was going on in the rest of the country at the same time. Down there we saw far right wing militia groups working with black ministers. Everyone came together. It was such a stark difference when you compared it to what was going on around the country."

Spencer librarian Robin Munson said this program will offer information to area residents about how to be prepared for a local disaster and how they can help if there is another natural disaster nationally.

"In Spencer, you can't say we will never have any kind of disaster here," Munson said. "We have flooding and we do have tornadoes coming through this area. We certainly have had people who have been affected by hurricanes live in our community. When disaster strikes everyone will say how can I help and this program will give them some sort of an idea of what they can do."

Weiss said he hopes the program will provide people with inspiration as well as encourage them to be better prepared for these types of events.

"A large part of the program is to inspire people to become a part of something bigger than themselves," Weiss said. "Another portion of this program is going to be more of a preparedness message, because what made these events so difficult could happen somewhere else in the United States."

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