Organizers hope to throw TARP over disaster teams


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor


When a disaster strikes, people are eager to step in and help.


However, that enthusiasm and desire can be a hindrance if the volunteers are not trained in disaster response.


Teaching churches and individuals how to serve effectively after a disaster is the purpose of the Mississippi Conference TARP DRIVE Disaster Response Academy. The title stands for “Training Advancement Response Preparation Disaster Recovery Information Volunteers Education.”


The event is scheduled for Sept. 10-15 at Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman. Registration deadline is Aug. 15.


“The idea for the academy came as we were returning from the UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) training in Goldsboro, N.C., recently,” said the Rev. C.J. Caufield. “We knew we needed training in our conference, but one specific course would not be enough.


“The importance lies in the fact that we always need to look ahead. Being pro-active in areas like disaster response allows us to be prepared rather than responding re-actively and needing to play catch-up.”


Caufield, pastor at First UMC in Kosciusko, is the conference disaster response coordinator.


The goal of the academy is to offer intense, comprehensive training in three tracks: basic UMCOR training, early response team training and early response team trainer training.


Topics will range from properly operating chain saws to mucking out houses to training others. Caufield said plans call for representatives from UMCOR, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Lutheran Disaster Response and other disaster response experts to be on hand.


“From the chaos we had in the beginning with this disaster (Hurricane Katrina), I have seen that those trained as first responders made a huge difference,” said Robert Sharp, who heads the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Recovery team. “They came self-contained and helped without putting an extra burden on us to take care of.


“Hopefully this training will help those in the state who have not been trained understand there is more (to disaster response) than just showing up. It gives them the understanding of what is required to operate in a disaster area.”


Following the academy’s training phase Sept. 10-12, participants will have the option of doing hands-on recovery work in the Brookhaven and McComb areas Sept. 13-15.


Caufield said the academy seeks to provide practical and needed training for individuals, churches, districts and the conference and to move the Mississippi Conference disaster response program forward while fostering continued good relations in the disaster response community at large.


Cost of the training, which begins at 8 a.m. Sept. 10, is $90. Participating in the mission work is an additional $90. 


For additional information, contact Caufield at 662-290-0636 or 601-940-7272 or by e-mail at or