By Sherry Koonce
The News staff writer
GROVES — Methodist church members from a five-county region gathered at First United Methodist Church in Groves Saturday for Disaster Early Responder training.
Sponsored by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the day-long taught participants how to help people recover from a disaster.
Whether it was the area’s experience with three hurricanes in four years, or a strong desire to help others, the 60 in attendance was the largest group ever assembled at once in Texas for the early responder training session.
“This is a great turn-out today. The service is vitally needed. It’s important to be better prepared than to wonder what we are supposed to do after something like this happens, ” Dick White, district superintendent, said.
The church’s pastor, Alan Van Hooser, said he remembers moving to Groves shortly before Rita hit in 2005 and being unprepared for the challenges facing the community.
At Saturday’s training, those in attendance learned how to use a chainsaw, how to pile debris, clean mud from homes, repair sheetrock and, perhaps what most Southeast Texans are familiar with — how to properly install blue tarps.
“This is an opportunity to show the world the United Methodist Church cares about their plight. It’s an opportunity for Christian service and an opportunity to do something physical, something tangent with your hands,” trainer Chris Norton, said.
Once trained, the participants will be certified as early responders. If invited, they’ll travel to other parts of the country to help, but most plan to be ready to help out at home.
Robin Snoek, a member of the First United Methodist Church in Beaumont, said recent hurricanes helped her see how important it was to be trained in the event of a disaster.
“There’s something everyone can do to help. I can’t get up on the roof, but I can pile debris,” she said.
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