Early Response Teams from The PNW Conference received a request for support from the Spokane County Emergency Manager. An initial call was in early May; an Assessment team spent time in the area May 10-11, 2017. An ERT team then visited June 23-28. This is the first time an ERT has been dispatched in three phases to help those in need.
By Kathy Bryson | Additional photos by L. George Abrams, et. al.
After six days of tearing out damaged drywall and insulation from water-damaged homes, nine Pacific Northwest UMC Early Response Team members recently returned from Spokane County in late June. The region experienced abnormally high rainfall last fall and winter causing the water table to rise and build exceptionally strong hydrostatic pressures on basement walls, foundations and floors. As a result, water flowed through walls and up from cracks in basement floors beginning late February and continued through early June.
Early Response Team involvement began in early May when contacted by The Spokane County Emergency Manager asking if The United Methodist Church could help. An ERT call team was set up to contact families that registered with the Emergency Management office in an effort to determine what help was needed and in what form. Though the guidance of the Spokane County Emergency Manager and the Inland West Long Term Recover Group, an ERT Assessment Team then traveled to Spokane mid-May to complete 17 site-visits of those families most at risk.
The damage to homes was stunning.
Water shot up like geysers through cracks in basement floors for days and, in some cases, weeks. Homes were starting to sag from cracked foundations. Interior walls were soaked and starting to mold. ERTs were asked to help and were on the ground by mid-June. They worked with nine families and their disaster case managers. Some homes needed a mold spray or moisture check. Four of the homes required extensive muck outs and mold sprays.
Support for the Spokane County relief efforts came from all across the faith-based volunteers. Local Latter Day Saint missionaries were on site twice to help ERTs move furniture and household items from basements. Members of the Colbert Presbyterian Church hosted the team providing comfortable beds, hot showers and open hearts. Their hospitality allowed the team to relax and get solid rest before taking on some challenging work.
Please keep the Spokane families, Inland West Long Term Recovery Group and future volunteers in prayer as they continue to work towards home recovery.
Kathy Bryson serves with The PNW United Methodists Volunteers in Mission as the coordinator for Early Response Teams. L. George Abrams is a retired clergy person from the PNWUMC.