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Native American Storm Team

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When disasters strike, we are reminded of the power of Nature, and the power of compassion. According to research, there’ve already been more than 700 tornadoes in the U.S. this year, and some of the first people on the scene after the fact belong to Disaster Early Response Teams, like the one we met in Eagle Pass, Texas. Reed Galin reports.             

 
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(Locator: Eagle Pass, Texas)

The Rev. Julienne Judd, United Methodist Disaster Early Response Team: “It took us about 23 hours to drive here. We had one hour’s time to change our clothes and we worked here as long as there was daylight.”

United Methodist pastor Julienne Judd leads a disaster response team that landed in Eagle Pass, Texas shortly after a tornado killed 7 residents and destroyed much of the town.

Judd believes a rapid response is critical to a community’s recovery.

The Rev. Julienne Judd, United Methodist Disaster Early Response Team: “A lot of people they’re so traumatized and they don’t know what to do. They look around and see the devastation and don’t know where to begin. We just go in and we just pick up a rake and start cleaning or start moving furniture or start getting the roads cleared so they can get back to their homes. And generally that helps the person who’s in the disaster to maybe just have a little peace and know where to start.”

Native American volunteers staff the team, which also helped after 9/11 and Katrina. The group came together after the bombing in Oklahoma City.

The Rev. Julienne Judd, United Methodist Disaster Early Response Team: “What they found out was that there were a lot of disaster people who were responding, but they didn’t have people of color who were specifically needed at that time.”

There is a Kickapoo Indian reservation in Eagle Pass. Tribe members Anthony and Lawana Castro traveled from Kansas to be part of the cleanup.

Anthony and Lawana Sacquat-Castro, United Methodist Disaster Early Response Team: “We’re part of this tribe down here, too which is all ancestors. So we wanted to come down and see that none of our family members had been hurt in the tornado.”

The team’s hard work was recognized by the storm survivors.

The Rev. Julienne Judd, United Methodist Disaster Early Response Team: “They went to get us water the first day. That was very inspirational for us because as Native people we know that sometimes the best that you can do is offer water.”

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Pastor Judd said one of the main goals of this response team is to provide services for children traumatized by disasters. She hopes to help put together a team to go back to Eagle Pass to counsel kids on the Kickapoo reservation.

These disaster response teams are all trained by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Call 1-800-918-3100 for more information.

Also, see: Native American team provides disaster response and UMC.org Profile: The Rev. Julienne Judd