Sprint employees blog on hurricane relief efforts

Dispatches From Sprint City

Sprint Nextel employees have established "Sprint City," a six-acre home for hurricane relief workers at the Baton Rouge, La., fairgrounds.

According to the company, the camp was established within 48 hours of Hurricane Katrina's landfall in late August, and since then it has served as a base from which employees are working to re-establish wireless and wired service for those in the areas hit by the storm. About 300 Sprint Nextel employees and contractors are temporarily living there, protected by armed guards.

Employees based there are filing Web log entries on their experiences in a Sprint-hosted blog called "Dispatches from Sprint City." Here are some of their observations.

"I had the opportunity to take a helicopter flyover of New Orleans on Saturday, and the live view was even more impactful than the pictures on television. 'The Big Easy' has become 'The Big Nothing is Easy.' Your heart goes out to these people and their city.

"On a daily basis now, fresh workers are rotating in to relieve weary employees who couldn’t be prouder for how they’ve spent the past week. It’s community in every sense of the word…and the entire population wouldn’t give up the experience for anything in the world. I know I wouldn’t."

Another entry reads:

"Our emergency response team, or ERT, has ventured on several occasions into very volatile areas of downtown New Orleans –- accompanied by heavily armed guards to ensure their safety. Their mission is to re-establish communications for law enforcement and government officials so the city can be stabilized. Working extremely long shifts, these brave individuals have tirelessly worked against difficult odds, and they are succeeding.

"Back at Sprint City, other members of the ERT are literally working 24 hours a day programming and distributing thousands of handsets to make life safer and more effective for rescue personnel and government officials heading the relief effort. Their work has made an immeasurable difference."

That same writer, Steve Dykes, reflected on the meaning of Labor Day, which came as relief efforts were in high gear.

"To me, Labor Day has always been the final day of that end-of-summer, long weekend when we went to the pool with the kids and had friends over for a cookout. Not much appreciation for what it was intended to be –- a day to reflect on, appreciate and thank those who make this country run through their hard work and dedication to getting any job done.

"Today, I better understand the concept of why we take a special day to recognize the contributions of everyone who works.

"After almost a week in Sprint City, I’ve come to appreciate what it takes on a daily basis to make things happen. I’ve observed some of the most heroic, selfless acts of courage and raw labor -– all geared to making life a little easier for fellow citizens."

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