Disaster Response Across Missouri

This issue of the VOICE is all about “Serving the Lord in our Vocations”, but Christian vocation is more than a career that provides a living, it is a lifetime of service to God and to your neighbor. A great opportunity for vocational service is becoming LERT trained and joining the Missouri District Response Team. Tornados, floods, and other disasters–sadly–can occur at anytime. Helping our neighbor applies beyond the border of Missouri too. With the big derecho wind storm that greatly affected parts of Iowa and a bad hurricane season impacting many areas in the Southeast, the need for disaster response is very high right now. But did you know that before helping with a disaster in an official LCMS capacity, you need to be LERT trained?

Kent Kunkel serves as the Director of Development at Saint Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia, and is also a LERT Disaster Response leader in the Missouri District. Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) is a training process provided by the National Office of the LCMS to help certify volunteers in disaster response. The training is about eight hours, open to people over the age of 18, and covers the “do’s and don’t” of disaster response as well as spiritual care training. There is also a component to become chainsaw user certified. LERT certification is good for life and people can volunteer at a level of their choosing. Once becoming trained, you can connect with a Disaster Response team in your area.

Kunkel describes how Disaster Response works with the District, “LERT is self-supported. We don’t want to drain resources on people already in the disaster… If there is a disaster, the local church [in the disaster area] will contact with a disaster response coordinator. We meet with them, and they decide what the response is going to look like.” While churches aren’t responsible for providing anything for LERT teams, Kunkel says that often they are so thankful for the assistance they help to arrange housing, food, drinks, and other support for the travelling LERT teams.

When helping the assigned households remove damage, LERT teams are frequently approached by neighbors. Kunkel explains, “We have the safety gear on (helmet, chaps, glasses), we take our time and do it right, it gives [homeowners] peace of mind. One homeowner said ‘I couldn’t think there was so much to do. Then you came and took care of this one big thing, and I was able to relax enough to work through other things.’” Kunkel continues, “Everytime I go, my intention is to help others, and they always end up helping me.”