Marco Costa and Team Rubicon
This fall, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria wreaked havoc in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Many of us have family and friends living in these areas — especially in Florida and Puerto Rico — who experienced firsthand the devastation wrought by these storms. Anyone who has seen news footage of the aftermath of these storms could not help but empathize with those who had experienced these hurricanes directly. A common response was to donate money, supplies or non-perishable food items towards the relief cause. In this week’s column, I would like to share the story of one of my coworker’s response to these storms—a response that could be described as anything but common.
Marco Costa is a man of many things. A family man married to his beautiful wife, Jessie, for 15 years with whom he has two sons. A man who appreciates diversity, Marco speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently. A man of action, Marco is a proud member of the New Britain Fire Department (NBFD) who celebrated his 10 year anniversary as a firefighter in February 2017. Marco is the guy who would give you the shirt off of his back, so it was no surprise to his fellow firefighters when he volunteered to assist hurricane victims by joining Team Rubicon.
Team Rubicon was created in 2010 by eight military veterans and first responders in response to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti. Today, Team Rubicon is an organization that “unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams” wherever they are most desperately needed across the Earth. Marco researched Team Rubicon, and determined this was the most effective manner in which he could put his skill set as a first responder to work in order to help others in their time of need. Marco quickly passed a background test, took some online courses and attended a training session in Boston, Massachusetts as part of his preparation. On October 5, 2017, Marco received notification that he would be deployed to Florida. However, two days later his mission was changed, and Marco found himself heading to Beaumont, Texas.
Upon arrival in Texas, Marco was assigned to a team that conducted property assessments in an effort to get people the help they needed as efficiently as possible. During the first two days, Marco took part in over 20 property assessments. At the end of the second day, Marco and three others were selected to head to Houston to receive additional training on mold remediation. After this training was completed, Marco was named team leader of a 9 person team who would physically remediate mold for the remainder of the time they were in Texas. Marco said the work was physically exhausting especially in light of the Texas climate, but the team was inspired by the fact that they were making a positive difference in the lives of their fellow Americans. After a week, Marco returned to Connecticut where he was warmly welcomed back by family and friends.
While out of state, Marco and his Team Rubicon compatriots slept on cots on church floors, and worked solely as volunteers. American Airlines did provide charter flights so Team Rubicon members could travel to their assignments and back. Marco was not compensated in any way for the specialized services he provided, and he had to utilize his personal time off from work to volunteer. When I asked Marco to sum up his experiences in Texas; he stated that he “wished he could have stayed longer and done more for the people he met”. Marco then went on to credit his wife Jessie, “for holding it down on the home front” so he could deploy to a hurricane ravaged area and help those who needed it most. Earlier, in this column I said Marco was a man of many things. This is true, and one of the things I failed to mention is that he is a humble man who is quick to action without expecting or wanting any acknowledgment. It is characteristics like these that make me proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Marco as members of the NBFD. For more information about Team Rubicon, please visit https://teamrubiconusa.org.