Storms strike again; Disaster Academy dates set


Special to the Advocate

Another spring Friday brought another round of severe storms to north Mississippi on May 2, followed by a tornado that struck Tupelo on May 8.  

In Union County, 25 homes were destroyed and 25 more sustained heavy damage May 2. Friendship UMC near New Albany was damaged. The church will need a new roof and new ceilings, new carpet, and possibly new furniture. Coordinated by Wayne Napier, New Albany District disaster response coordinator, United Methodists quickly were on the scene, tarping five homes the day after the storm.  

To help train more people in disaster response ministry the 2008 Conference Disaster Response Academy has been set for June 26-28 at Wood Institute in Mathiston.  

The academy will provide an overview of United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) disaster response, early response, safety, case management, muck out,  assessment and estimation  and volunteer coordination.

Representatives will be in attendance from partner organizations including other denominations, American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. 

Please communicate your intent to attend, along with the track in which you are interested, to C.J. Caufield at 662-290-0636 as soon as possible 

Tentative tracks include: 

 Basic UMCOR/ Early Response Team (ERT) -- This is the entry-level track for those new to the disaster relief ministry. It includes an overview of the way in which UMCOR operates in general, early response, and moving from early response into the bigger picture of recovery for the affected individuals and communities.  

Advanced ERT -- This is designed to be taken after the above course. Topics covered include proper muck-out with the latest recommendations and safety standards, how to interact with homeowners more effectively, working in the volunteer setting, Safe Sanctuaries (child protection) concerns and assessments and estimation for the transition into recovery and reconstruction.  

Ham Radio -- This course will be taught by federally licensed ham radio operators from Mississippi. The purchase of a book prior to the academy and some work in same is an additional requirement. This will be both theoretical and hands-on. At the conclusion of the academy on Saturday afternoon, those wishing to take the exam for the technician's license, the required FCC entry-level license for using ham radio, may do so.  

ERT Train-The-Trainer -- This course will allow successful participants to become eligible to teach the ERT course. Per recent protocol developed jointly by UMCOR and UMVIM, completion of this course including teach-back observation, clearance through the conference background check and recommendation from the conference disaster response (UMCOR) coordinator or conference UMVIM coordinator qualifies the successful participant to become credentialed through the UMCOR office for instruction of this course. Participants are required to produce a letter of recommendation from the disaster response coordinator or the UMVIM coordinator of their conference. 

Incident Command (Coordination) System -- These Homeland Security / FEMA courses prepare responders to better understand and work with the larger picture within the response community. Although not mandatory for voluntary organizations, conference disaster response leaders strongly urging all potential responders to take these courses. Crucial to the practicality of this track will be how to properly implement the UMCOR/UMVIM response flowchart which is contained in the conference disaster response plan. Successful participants will leave the academy with the four FEMA certificates of course completion.