EVERETT — When a natural disaster hits close to home, police, firefighters and the American Red Cross are routinely there.
Yet legions of others often help in important yet unheralded ways.
That list includes faith-based volunteer organizations, including churches that open their doors to become de facto dormitories by feeding, housing and keeping warm the suddenly homeless. They counsel and help rebuild, coordinate donation drives and hand out hygiene kits.
A training seminar at an Everett church next week aims to prepare locals to help in the event of a major disaster in Snohomish County.
The speaker is Mary Bates, the North American Lutheran Church disaster response director. Bates knows firsthand about disaster relief efforts. She’s already visited 15 states so far this year, including offering aid in Texas after Tropical Storm Harvey and in Florida after Hurricane Irma. Her light luggage is always at the ready.
The Ohio native found a niche in disaster preparedness, response and recovery 20 years ago when a tornado and flooding hit the family farm on land her ancestors homesteaded in the early 1800s. She has been volunteering ever since.
The training is about feeling competent and prepared when a disaster strikes, said Jack Richards, an Everett police chaplain and retired pastor at Everett’s Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Richards spent months helping in the Oso mudslide relief efforts.
“People in their core are caring, but it’s one thing to have a good heart and another to be confident in giving that help,” Richards said.
Such training could prove valuable when a large-scale natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hits Western Washington, Richards said.
“We encourage any faith-based organization or local agency to participate in this training,” Bates said. “Our goal is to build a collaborative community response.”
The training is scheduled for Friday and Oct. 7 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
It will include a Friday evening segment led by local law enforcement who will discuss how people can respond to shootings, and other needs within the community.
There also will be sessions on unskilled disaster response, such as removing debris, as well as information on Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations.
More specialized training will cover a variety of areas, including identifying and tracking needs of those directly affected by a disaster, managing donations, keeping databases and managing risk, providing spiritual and emotional care, estimating construction repairs and rebuilding costs.
Organizers say the purpose is to help churches determine their own disaster-response resources and to make connections with other churches so each knows who has the capacity to do what in a disaster. A key goal is to develop interdenominational connections.
“We train faith-based organizations on how to collaborate, how to make the best use of available resources and how to support families devastated through no fault of their own,” Bates said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 9320 Meadow Way, in Everett is hosting a disaster response planning event Friday and Oct. 7. The speaker is Mary Bates, the North American Lutheran Church national disaster response director.
There is a $10 fee to cover the cost of materials and lunch. More info about how to register: 425-337-6663 or email@example.com