At this time, the Office of Missional Outreach and Engagement is accepting teams (4 or more persons) to register and assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the Lake Charles District.
Initially, the call for volunteers was limited to only ERT trained responders.
"While the first priority is to have fully trained ERT responders, we have adjusted the strategy to address the need, the urgency and the scope of work required in the Lake Charles district," says Rev. Laraine Waughtal, Director of the Office of Missional Outreach and Engagement. "Anyone desiring to help muck out flooded homes is encouraged to visit www.LouisianaDisasterResponse.com and click through the volunteer portal. Even if the volunteers are not ERT certified, they are still allowed to arrive and help."
After completing the registration, Waughtal says someone from the Office of Missional Engagement and Outreach will contact the teams to arrange the best mission in the Lake Charles district for the size of the team and the experience of the team. While it’s not necessary for anyone on the team to be fully ERT certified, it is still necessary to indicate whether someone on the team is or is not ERT certified.
All teams will be paired with an ERT certified person to accompany them on a muck out.
While teams do not need to be fully trained, Waughtal's office is still asking all volunteers interested in assisting to have a basic understanding of what it means to muck out a house. The Office of Communications, together with Rev. Bob Deich, Director of the ERT teams, has developed a training video which is found on the registration page. This video provides viewers basic insight as to what will be required while mucking out a home but is not intended to serve as a full ERT training.
Age restrictions are still in place - those under the age of 18 are not allowed to assist with Harvey response work; however, those between the ages of 13-18 are allowed to work on the Baton Rouge flood recovery efforts, which continue.
Wuahgtal points out that the current exception for non-ERT trained volunteers is only being made for the Harvey response.
"Disasters can happen anywhere, anytime," she says. "At the present time, the Louisiana Conference has just 149 fully trained ERT’s and more are needed. We encourage men and women throughout the Conference to seek out the proper training as it gives the volunteer the opportunity to lead future teams. Furthermore, a full day-long ERT certification is incredibly comprehensive and covers much more than mucking out a flooded home."
The Conference office continues to add ERT trainings with the next two being held in Monroe and Pineville, Saturday, September 16th. You can register for those trainings by visiting: www.la-umc.org/ert