Tyler currently serves as a FEMA Corps team leader with the Pacific Region. His FEMA Corps team responded to the Oso, WA landslide that occurred in March 2014.
|FEMA Corps team leader Tyler serving in Oso, WA with |
fellow FEMA Corps members and FEMA staff
The day of April 22, 2014 will always stand as an unforgettable memory to me. It was a very somber day being that it had been exactly one month since the tragic landslide of State Route 530 in Oso, Washington. For the previous weeks I had been registering applicants for federal aid and offering referrals to other organizations in all three disaster recovery centers located around Oso. I had met many of the families and heard their heart wrenching stories.
|Meeting the President in Oso, WA|
I could not understand the pain they were going through, but I was a witness to their strength, compassion for each other, and their sense of pride. I became attached to this community. I admired them. When I became emotionally exhausted and worn down, I looked to these wonderful people and first responders and it motivated me to continue. I had never before felt such satisfaction in a job as I did in the Oso area knowing that I was truly helping these families.
When the President arrived, there was a lot of preparation. I was anxious having never seen a president in person before. We were ushered into the Oso fire station where we waited eagerly for the Presidential motorcade. Finally, a side door opened and the President emerged. His entrance was very swift and smooth, launching into a well-spoken and touching speech. President Obama spoke of the nation’s support of Oso, how amazingly strong and selfless the community continues to be, and reassured the crowd that we would continue to be there as long the people needed us. The President concluded with a powerful “God bless you. God bless America.” He then began to shake the hands of those sitting.
After seeing the immense amount of hard work my team had been putting into this deployment, I could not have been happier to see one of my teammates shake the President’s hand. As he exited, a DSA advisor I had been working alongside, Sampson, made eye contact with the President who then signaled for us to come down. I stood in line between some of the firefighters and a law enforcement officer, realizing the incredible men and women I was surrounded by. I felt honored to be inside that fire station and in the presence of such amazing people. When I approached the President, we shook hands, and then to my surprise he said “Thank you for your service.” I had never in my life expected to be thanked by a President, especially at 23 years old.
|President Barack Obama speaking in Oso, WA|
after the tragic landslide that occurred in March 2014
I will always be honored and thankful for the opportunity I have been given as a member of AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps. While shaking hands with the President of the United States was a very memorable moment of my life, it was only a perk in light of being able to truly help the people of the Snohomish County. The relationships I’ve formed with applicants, stories of strength I’ve heard that have truly touched my heart to the point of tears, and the differences my incredible teammates and I have been able to make here will always be what I remember most from this experience.