Work teams are needed for the recovery in Eagle Pass

           Teams wishing to assist in the recovery effort in Eagle Pass following the spring 2013 flooding should register online.   You will then be contacted to make final arrangements.   Housing and cooking accommodations are limited but the volunteer coordinator will work with groups to help you meet your needs.

     CLICK HERE to register your team.    

Chain Saw Team Training March 28, 2015

Training is scheduled for March 28 at Dripping Springs.

Chain Saw training is an advanced training for Early Response Team members. A special credential will be issued by the Conference Disaster Response Committee to participants who successfully complete the training,. At its meeting late last year, the CDRC established protocols to guide the new addition to the disaster response effort of the Conference (see below).

Those interested in registering may register online at Participants will be expected to purchase steel toed shoes, approved gloves and a helmet. The Conference will purchase chaps as well as saws and other equipment. Registration is open but priority will be given to those who have current ERT credentials. Those with out-of-date credentials or who have not yet taken ERT training will be accepted on a space available basis but will not receive chain saw credentials until they receive current ERT Credentials issued by UMCOR.   

Southwest Texas Conference
Chain Saw Protocols

Chain Saw Certification is done by the Southwest Texas Conference which will issue badges. The following protocols are established relative to chain saw operation by Early Response Teams.

1. Only certified chain saw operators may operate chain saws.
2. A current ERT Badge is required in order to be certified as a chain saw operator.
3. Chain saw operators must be at least 18 years old. (This is the minimum age for ERT members.)
4. Chain saw operators must complete the conference chain saw training including the following elements:
    a. Classroom instruction in chain saw safety, maintenance, operation and cutting procedures.
    b. Field demonstrations of chainsaw operation and cutting procedures by qualified instructors.
    c. Hands on instruction for volunteers in chainsaw operation and cutting procedures.
5. Operators must use all personal protective equipment including helmet, ear protection, eye protection, steel toed shoes, protective chaps, and approved gloves when operating a chain saw.
6. Only Conference owned or approved chain saws may be used.
7. A Permission to Enter Property and Liability Waiver must be signed by the property owner before a chain saw crew can work on a site.
8. Each chain saw operator must sign a Liability Waiver before deploying on a chain saw team.
9. Each chain saw crew must have a designated safety officer who will monitor safety procedures on the work site.
10. Chain saw crews must abide by all ERT protocols adopted by the Conference Disaster Response Committee. 

Disaster Response Warehouse Dedicated

Bishop Jim Dorff was joined by Bishop Joel Martinez for the dedication of the Bishop Joel and Dr. Raquel Martinez Disaster Response Center in Kerrville on December 11, 2010.  The warehouse was then turned over to Dr. Eugene Hileman representing the Conference Disaster Response Committee.  The dedication was covered in an Article in the December 24 issue of the United Methodist Witness.   The Witness can be found online at .  

The building has approximately 2500 square feet of usable space with thermostatically controlled ventilation and heating.  The next challenge is to add needed shelving and equipment so that it can become functional.   The Conference Disaster Response Committee will meet early in 2011 to begin the planning process to equip the building to initiate programs to fully use the resource.  

Disasters can have many faces in the Southwest Texas Conference.

Natural disaster such as hurricanes, floods or wild fires; man made disasters such as a chemical spills or gas line explosions; economic disasters such as a plant closings that devastate a single community or a general increase in unemployment; or a medical disasters such as pandemics all demand that the Church hears the call of our neighbors.


Early Response Teams (ERT) are specially trained teams that offer assistance soon after the disaster strikes. They generally do clean up work and tasks required to stop further damage from being done, e.g. putting tarps on damaged roofs. They might do minor repairs that help make homes habitable, but they do not do extensive repairs or reconstruction (that is the job for Long Term Recovery).  

Long Term Recovery
Long term recovery is the name given for the work of rebuilding after the disaster strikes. Often the Long Term Recovery takes many months and is generally done under the direction of interfaith long term recovery committees. UMCOR and the Southwest Texas Conference support these committees both financially and with expert consultants.


Volunteers are needed

UMVIM teams are needed to assist in recovery from the Rio Grande flooding of 2010.  Contact the persons listed above obtain additional informaion and to schedule a trip by your team.



Who gives leadership to disaster response in the Southwest Texas Conference?

Leadership of the disaster response effort by the Southwest Texas Conference is the responsibility of the Conference Disaster Response Committee that is chaired by the Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and includes District Disaster Response Coordinators from each of the seven districts, the Conference Director of Communications, a District Superintendent representing the Cabinet, and up to three at- large members.    The committee is part of the conference United Methodist Volunteer in Mission/Disaster Response Committee, which relates to the conference Board of Global Ministries.

The functions of the Conference Disaster Response Committee are to:
       Set broad policies and procedures related to disaster response.
       Encourage disaster preparedness in the Conference, especially by local churches
       Provide opportunities for individuals to receive training for disaster response
       priorities during a disaster
       Monitor the progress of the response.
       Provide temporary fixes for as many survivors as possible during the Relief Phase
       Assist communities during Long Term Recovery
       Evaluate response effectiveness.

What kinds of disasters do we respond to?

The Disaster Response Committee of the SWTX Conference primarily responds to natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. Recently attention has been given to preparation for disasters related to pandemics. Other disasters, often called “man made” may result from terrorism and domestic disturbances or from accidents such as chemical spills. Resources of the conference would be used to assist individuals and families impacted by these disasters as well.

How does SWTX Conference respond to disasters?

The Disaster Response Committee of the Southwest Texas Conference stands ready to assist any time disasters are so large that the resources of the local community or the District are not sufficient to meet the needs. This response can take many forms.   Expert advice can be provided to help the local community as they meet immediate needs, or as they plan for recovery from a disaster by churches, families or the community. Volunteers can also be recruited by the Conference. Early Response Teams are deployed to assist with clean up and minor repairs needed to make homes habitable. Long term recovery teams help with rebuilding during the recovery phase after a disaster. In addition, Spiritual and Emotional Care teams can provide support to individuals and congregations as they cope with the loss caused by a disaster.  

The Conference Disaster Response Committee is also the link between local communities and UMCOR. UMCOR has expert consultants to assist immediately following a disaster, as well as during the recovery phase. They are especially helpful as the community plans for long term recovery and offer a variety of training programs to assist in long term recovery. The Bishop may request financial assistance from UMCOR to assist communities as they respond to a disaster.

How can I volunteer to help when a disaster strikes?

The best thing you can do is plan ahead. Get trained to be a member of an Early Response Team (ERT) or a Care team. In addition, you may receive training from the American Red Cross to work in a shelter or some other capacity. Many avenues are open to you if you are trained.

If you are not trained before the disaster, you can still make a difference. Immediately following the disaster, your best avenue is in your local community. Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is organized in many communities or counties. They may have a Volunteer Operations Center (VOC) set up to process volunteers and match their skills and interests with the needs of organizations serving disaster survivors. If no VOC exists, the local ministerial alliance may be able to direct you where your skills can be put to use. Another alternative is to contact a responding organization directly.  For example, you may want to contact the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross. Also, other denominations might have programs where you could serve. For example, the Seventh Day Adventists have an extensive clothing ministry and the Baptist Men frequently serve meals to disaster survivors.    

Possibly the greatest need for volunteers comes in the recovery phase of the disaster. This is when long term recovery takes place—generally under the direction of an interdenominational long term recovery committee (LTRC). Thousands of hours of volunteer help are needed to clear debris from yards, and repair or rebuild homes. This task is often the hardest to accomplish because the job is so large and because the survivors are no longer in the news. UMVIM teams from your church or area can work with the Long Term Recovery Committee and plan a convenient time for you to go.

Early Response

ERT training covers a wide range of topics, but the most important are team and individual safety and response protocols that prevent action that may somehow make the situation worse. For example, work could be done that would cause homeowners to loose insurance payments or loose their eligibility for government assistance through FEMA, SBA, etc.

Why is training necessary before I can be part of an Early Response Team?

Why is a criminal background check required before I can be on an Early Response Team?

Conference policy requires all workers who have contact with youth or vulnerable adults to have a background check. Also, many government agencies require a background check before volunteers are permitted to work in shelters or even to gain entrance to disaster sites. The Disaster Response Committee has established policies to protect the privacy of volunteers who have a background check as well as policies to evaluate the suitability for service of volunteers who have minor violations on their record.

Long Term Recovery

What are the active long term recovery sites in the Southwest Texas conference?

Presently two sites are actively seeking volunteers to assist with long term recovery. You should contact the volunteer coordinator directly to schedule your team.

What do UMVIM teams do during Long Term Recovery?

Long term recovery takes place in the months (and sometimes years) following the disaster. It is generally under the direction of an interfaith long term recovery committee (LTRC). UMVIM teams are needed to do home repairs, and in some cases, do complete rebuilds. Work is often done under the direction of a construction coordinator and the committee may have a volunteer coordinator with whom team leaders should make arrangements. Teams often stay in local churches but are responsible for their food. A gift to the host church to cover incidental expenses is standard procedure. The team leader of an UMVIM team doing long term recovery work following a disaster must have completed the course in UMVIM Leader Training.


Eugene Hileman
Disaster Response Coordinator
Southwest Texas Conference
13506 Beltway
San Antonio, TX 78217

Austin District

Corpus Christi District

Rev. Beth Tatum
153 Nakishwana
Sandia, TX 78383
361-584-2355 (Work)
713-724-8873 (Cell)

Kerrville District

Mc Allen District

Sherwood Hamilton
956-466-9782 (Cell)
956-425-4133 (Home)

San Angelo District


San Antonio District

Tom Warner
1818 Vinca Manor
San Antonio, TX 78260

Victoria District