Local UMVIM members answer call for help in Texas
When a call came out from the Rio Texas Conference for help with relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on south Texas, Emergency Response Teams (ERT) from the Greater Northwest Area were ready to respond.
Specifically, Oregon-Idaho Conference members Larry Johnson, Maggie Skyberg, Brian McKennett and Jerry Iervolino heard the call and joined ERT members from the Pacific Northwest Conference in the Corpus Christie area on Nov. 3.
Team members reported numerous small, coastal communities near Corpus Christie were impacted, with thousands of homes destroyed and damaged and countless residents displaced. The Rio Texas Conference reached out nationwide for assistance due to the overwhelming devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
ERT members from the Oregon-Idaho Conference said the Sinton First United Methodist Church became a makeshift volunteer center, opening its doors to house groups of volunteers in an unused education wing. The team helped three families during its first week, and a second team with more volunteers from the PNW Conference picked up where the first team left off on the third home.
Team members did everything from cutting up downed trees to tarping roofs, mucking out wet contents and building materials. The purposes of ERTs are to make homes “safe, sanitary and secure.”
"As wheelbarrows of soggy possessions were heaped onto a pile of moldy sheetrock the atmosphere literally lifted. When we first arrived our clients were overwhelmed. As the piles grew to 30-by-10-by-8 feet, their spirits of hope were renewed,” Skyberg said. “As newbie ERT's, we now can say we understand what a difference a team of willing hands, feet, strong backs and determination can make. We came home dog-tired but feeling both sobered and joyful. We left behind, as outward evidence of our faith, a sanitized house ready for rebuild."
Learn more about United Methodist disaster preparedness on the conference website.