UMCOR Brings Early Response Team Training to Puerto Rico
The United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR’s) donors have made it possible for the U.S. Disaster Response arm of the agency to support its partner, the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico, in many ways as they work to rebuild after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As is UMCOR’s tradition, the organization is committed to equipping the people impacted by these devastating storms to take the lead and spearhead the recovery and rebuilding process while UMCOR provides assistance.
In a first for UMCOR, Early Response Team (ERT) training was recently provided in Puerto Rico and in Spanish.
La Roca Methodist Church in Camuy hosted an UMCOR ERT training in Puerto Rico. Twenty-nine people completed the ERT training presented by Luis Morales, a certified UMCOR instructor and member of the UMCOR MCPR Coordination Team.
ERT training provides disaster responders with the appropriate information and skills to bring support to disaster survivors as soon as communities allow teams into disaster-impacted areas.
Background-checked, badged, and motivated to be a caring, listening Christian presence, early responders prevent further damage by tarping roofs, stabilizing structures, and clearing and cleaning out debris and water-soaked material. ERTs know how to prepare a structure for recovery teams and to provide hope to desperate survivors that God’s people care about their lives and homes.
In December 2017, Methodist Church Camp Miriam Visot, located in Guardarraya, hosted the first UMCOR ERT training on the 12th and Methodist Church Camp Fred P. Corson, located in Jayuya, hosted the second on the 13th. Following the comprehensive training session, participants worked on a home in Patillas and made roof repairs to Camp Corson to prepare it to receive mainland volunteers.
In January 2018, ERT trainings were presented at La Roca Methodist Church in Camuy on the 12th and Meson de Amor Methodist Church in Guayama on the 13th. Following the comprehensive training session, participants replaced a tarp on a church in Hatillo and covered a house in Guayama with tarps.
The 104 people trained in Puerto Rico join the 1,900 individuals who received UMCOR ERT training in 2017.
On a related note, UMCOR recently announced the process for ERTs to apply to volunteer in Puerto Rico. Due to housing, travel, and safety challenges, the call for general volunteers has not yet been issued.
Teams or individuals who arrive in Puerto Rico without going through appropriate channels may cause further difficulties for our hosts in Puerto Rico and/or put volunteers at risk because the proper infrastructure may not be in place to accommodate them.
If you are an ERT and interested in scheduling a volunteer team to Puerto Rico to help with their efforts, please visit http://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/puerto-rico-volunteers.