There are many volunteers and organizations that have gone down to texas and florida to bring relief for hurricane victims, but none of these organizations are anything like the church group that’s involved in our area.
The Lutheran Early Response Team, otherwise known as LERT, is an organization which consists of skilled workers trained in disaster relief. Robert Schwarzkopf, Assistant Team Leader of LERT at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere said, “It was set up to be the hands and feet and mouth and ears of Jesus.”
Schwarzkopf first joined LERT after an EF4 tornado slammed Washington, Illinois back in November 2013.
He trained as a chainsaw worker. Each person has to take a basic LERT class, but then has to go through training on the specialty that they choose.
Schwarzkopf added, “The basic LERT training was maybe half a day. There was another training in ministering to people. When they’ve really got a load to dump on ya and they’ve got nobody else, how you deal with that. The big thing is that you listen.”
LERT members can learn other specialites like tarping or working a pump. The organization has even gotten involved in rebuilding houses, including those affected by flooding in Eureka, Missouri. Schwarzkopf said, “We were down helping do the finishing of one of those houses. Four of us spent a week down there putting up trim, painting, putting up some plaster on the drywall, getting the floors ready for carpeting and stuff like that.”
Schwarzkopf also said the organization was designed to be able to help people affected by disasters for a longer period of time, not just a few weeks. He said, “God cares for people. That when this disaster came, God’s still with them.”
The next LERT training session will take place at the Good Sheperd church in Elgin on Saturday September 23rd, and people can sign up for the training session up through that day.