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By Rev. Tom Mattick

You have likely watched as Hurricane Ida made landfall yesterday and in its wake left catastrophic damage. This morning, I sent an email to Bob Deich, the Louisiana Coordinator of Disaster Response assuring him of our prayers as he assesses the church’s response to the hurricane. Most likely there will be an appeal through UMCOR for ERTs from other Annual Conferences to provide services.

Before we respond from our Conference, several factors need consideration:

  1. An invitation for assistance needs to be issued by the Louisiana Conference. This means the organization and structures are in place to receive teams: survivors are permitted to return, power is restored, roads are open, assessments of damage are complete, lodging and food sources are available…
  2. Bishop Hoshibata grants permission for the Disaster Response Team to organize and deploy teams. In consultation with others, he will need to determine if it is safe to deploy to a region with high COVID positivity and hospitalization rates. (We don’t want to create a disaster within a disaster.)
  3. There is consideration of medical factors. The team that deployed in August to Lake Charles found the weather oppressive and for some dangerous.

While you may feel an immediate sense of urgency to get there and help, practically it may be months before Louisiana is ready to receive teams and we are ready to deploy.

In the interim, what can you or your church do?

  1. Pray for the survivors and first responders.
  2. Make sure your ERT badge is current. An online recertification class will be announced soon. https://dscumc.org/ert
  3. Recruit potential teams members. They must be at least 18 years old. Polly Turner is offering a Basic ERT class on Sept. 2 at Prescott UMC. The registration link is early-response-team-training-august-11-2021
  4. Promote Disaster Response in your local church and consider having a fundraiser for our Desert Southwest Conference Disaster Response needs: ERT trailer maintenance and repairs, equipment, shared travel expenses…

As additional information becomes available, I’ll keep you informed.

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