By Kathy Bryson

Kathy Bryson

I just received a news article predicting that the upcoming hurricane season will again be busy. The forecast made me reflect on last year’s many Early Response Team (ERT) missions. We saw Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria bring unimaginable destruction to the southern coastal areas and Puerto Rico in a short period of time. ERTs from the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences, along with our ERT colleagues from across the nation, were there to help.

The work at first seemed overwhelming but our training kicked in leading us one step at a time through the process. We cleared debris, sorted through damaged household goods and tore out moldy walls. We were ready to listen to weary survivors tell their stories. We saw daily acts of kindness from neighbors and many other volunteer organizations.

The Northwest also saw its share of natural disasters. ERTs responded locally by helping their fellow Washingtonians with several flood and fire relief missions. Our training equipped us to do damage assessments, sift ashes and clear trees while keeping each other safe. We were guided by long term recovery groups and partnered with other volunteer organizations to thoughtfully approach the work to best serve the survivors.

Our Pacific Northwest UMC Early Response Teams are getting ready now for what may come. Our Second Annual Spring Training is set for Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12, at the Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center located near Ellensburg. Taught by UMCOR-certified trainers offering the Basic Training for those new to the program as well as classes for Team Leader, Site Assessment and Logistics Officer for current ERT members or those renewing their badges. A Wildfire Relief class, chainsaw proficiency segment, and a roof tarping demonstration are also on the agenda.

The cost is $50 and includes training materials, one night bunk-style accommodations and three meals. Add $20 for an optional Saturday night stay with dinner and breakfast.  ERT classes are open to anyone 18 years or older.  To register or for questions contact Kathy Bryson, PNWUMC ERT Coordinator, at or (509)539-2978. The Registration Deadline is May 1.

Kathy Bryson serves as an Early Response Team Coordinator for Pacific Northwest Conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (PNW UMVIM). Like PNW UMVIM on Facebook!

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