By Kathy Bryson
For the PNW Early Response Team program, 2017 was a year kaf firsts. We hosted our first annual weekend “Spring Training” at the Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center in April for 21 new and current program participants traveling from Washington, Idaho and Oregon. We also kicked off our first chainsaw training at Lazy F while clearing a few unwanted trees and stacking up needed firewood.
PNW ERT members were engaged for the first time in a three-phase response to Spokane County’s devastating spring floods. Partnering with Oregon-Idaho Conference ERTs, team members contacted 71 local Spokane Co residents on behalf of the Spokane County Emergency Management in May to determine needs. A combined PNW and OR-ID ERT assessment and client call group then performed site assessments. As a result, 12 ERT members responded to and mucked out six Spokane County homes.
Freshly out of the Spring chainsaw training, four PNW and OR-ID ERT members served as the first Greater Northwest chainsaw team in May clearing two home sites in the Okanogan County area in preparation for rebuilding homes destroyed by the 2015 Okanogan wildfires.
In early June 24, ERT members responded to the call for Pastor Laurie Sardinia’s home fire recovery in Yelm. Twelve ERTs finished the work in three days by hauling burned debris, sifting ashes and site clearing for her new home. This is the first time this number of ERT members responded to the call for a fire relief mission.
Between September 30 and November 4, PNW Disaster Response trainers taught four ERT Basic/Advanced classes in response to interest in supporting hurricane relief in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. A total of 74 people attended the classes held in Washington and Alaska. This is the first time this number of classes was taught in a short timeframe for this number of people.
The year 2017 ended as busy as it started. In partnership with the OR-ID Conference, three ERTs deployed on relief missions to Houston and the Rockport/Port Aransas areas in response to Hurricane Harvey support. About 22 ERT members mucked out homes, moved debris, sorted mold-damaged household items, performed site assessments and tarped roofs. This is the first time three of our teams have flown to support disaster relief. ERT members giving their time and resources along with the generosity of donors and prayerful support made their Texas missions, along with all the 2017 ERT missions, possible.
Kathy Bryson serves as an Early Response Team Coordinator for PNW UMVIM. Like PNW UMVIM on Facebook!