HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Prepare and Respond group formed following the April 2011 tornadoes and has been growing ever since in the effort to respond to natural disasters locally and around the region.
Danny Walker, a PAR board member, summarizes the organization like this: “It’s a faith-based disaster relief organization with grassroots here in Huntsville/Madison County.” He added, “We are 100% volunteers. We raise funds once a year in a golf tournament and we use those funds to buy different equipment, supplies, materials. And we have member churches that also provide support and resources.”
Prepare and Respond has multiple church-managed trailers and a special flood response trailer. They also have vehicles and heavy equipment that they can haul all over the region.
It’s a mobile ministry.
“We are serving Christ but we are also serving these families that need help,” Walker explained. “It’s more rewarding for our volunteers. A lot of times these families get emotional, crying, and they don’t understand why these people from Alabama would be interested in coming and helping them. What we try to stress to them is we’ve been there ourselves. In 2011 these different volunteer organizations from all over, South Carolina, Indiana, they came to our rescue. So we’re just giving back.”
Just this week, Walker said PAR responded to a Huntsville home where water was rising. They helped drain it away from her home.
“We were able to go out. They had flooding in their backyard. It was getting higher. We are glad to do that,” he said. “But most of the flooding support we do has been responding to hurricanes.”
PAR has been doing work in Panama City, Florida on multiple different trips. Below are images from the most recent deployment to the area.
“The damage was– we’d never seen anything like it. It was so widespread.”
“PAR will probably go back at least one more time,” Walker explained.
Prepare and Respond often links with other faith-based organizations already on the ground if they go out of town, like Samaritan’s Purse, Walker said.
“They’re already set up to host volunteers,” he explained.
But PAR has all the tools they need to be prepared for anything. They keep many of those in a warehouse at a Huntsville church.
“We have a lot of tarping materials,” he said. “The trailers even have power tools. Saws. Things you need. Because when you get to these disaster areas, you can’t really run out and a lot of times, get what you need. We kind of have more stuff in these trailers than you’d think you’d need,” he stated. “Six of the trailers, the churches maintain and own and get the tag and insurance, but PAR has the flood trailer which is unique.”
PAR recently added one more member church to its list, and they are always looking for more volunteers. They will train and work with anyone who is willing to lend a hand. Walker said safety is a big part of what PAR represents, and each volunteer is taught best practices to protect themselves along with how to help others.
Meanwhile, they will host another fundraiser this year to get more equipment.
“What we’re looking to do is get some bigger equipment. Like an excavator,” Walker said.
Click here for ways you can support PAR and get involved.