BOSTON, OCT. 12 - Representative William Driscoll, Jr. (D – Milton) returned to Beacon Hill on Wednesday after spending a long Columbus Day weekend in Florida assisting with Hurricane Irma Recovery. Driscoll spent four days volunteering in the Flaggler Beach, Florida area. “The Columbus Day weekend offered me a short break from my legislative duties, so I had a few days free to be able to help out down there,” he said.
Driscoll held office hours in his district at locations in Milton and Randolph on Friday afternoon, before flying out of Logan Airport later that night. He returned Boston on Tuesday night to ensure that he was able to be present the next day on Beacon Hill for key votes in the legislature. However, for Driscoll, the quick turnaround was more than worthwhile. “Our team of volunteers was able to assist three households in four days with both flood cleanup and temporary roof repairs, so I consider it a successful trip,” he said.
The disaster response fieldwork is a familiar setting for the rookie legislator. Prior to his election Representative Driscoll spent 11 years in the disaster response sector at several leading nonprofit organizations in the US, including Massachusetts based All Hands Volunteers. (Hands.org) This recent trip was made with one of the agencies he formerly led, NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster. (NECHAMA.org)
“I’ve been in regular contact with friends and former colleagues during the last several months as they have been running full speed to respond to the onslaught of Hurricanes,” he noted. Driscoll also explained that he remained connected enough to the industry to be able to provide coaching and contacts as well as helping to troubleshoot logistical challenges in the field. Yet he noted that his responsibilities to his constituents and new job as an elected official make it tougher to travel.. “The support has come mostly over the phone rather than being on the ground in the disaster zone, so that has taken some getting used to on my end,” he admitted.
The Representative chose to travel to Florida rather than other areas recently affected by natural disasters due to the shortage of volunteers there. Most of the attention in the media, he explained, has been focused on Texas’s Hurricane Harvey and Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria. Yet he has not ruled out offering his services to Puerto Rico if his schedule allows it later in the year:
“I have family and friends in Puerto Rico. My wife and I were married in the Rio Grande/El Yunque Region in 2012. Much of her mother’s side of the family lives in San Juan, so we have been monitoring the situation daily with concern. Puerto Rico like Texas and Florida is going to need our help for years to come.”
Photo credits: NECHAMA.org