Early last April, North Texas was hit by severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. One line of storm cells with tornadoes caused severe damage across at least four counties. In Lancaster, in southern Dallas County, more than 300 homes were damaged by the tornadoes. Local resources were quickly overwhelmed. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) from the North Central Texas Region responded to the call for additional help.
Rowlett sent a team that consisted of both CERT volunteers and youth members of Rowlett Explorer Post One (Post One includes members of a youth program chartered through Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life Programs). The team went door to door, working with residents to identify debris that needed to be moved. After they identified the debris, the teams assisted in moving the debris to the street, which allowed City crews to promptly remove it.
CAPTION: Rowlett, Texas, April 5, 2011 -- Volunteers from the Rowlett Community Emergency Response Team and Explorer Post One remove tornado debris. Explorer Post One is a youth program chartered through Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life Programs that receives disaster response training.
Rowlett CERT and Explorer Post One contributed approximately 345 service hours in support of the Rockwall County and City of Lancaster tornado responses.
The City of Lancaster expressed their appreciation stating,
The success of this CERT callout validates the importance of our CERT programs and regional partnerships. Please pass along this appreciation to your CERT members.
Responding to a community's need is nothing new for Rowlett’s Explorer Post One. The post is closely aligned with FEMA’s new direction to build upon the Teen CERT program. Members have been trained to help provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to survivors, providing damage assessment information and organizing other volunteers at a disaster site. However, unlike most Teen CERT programs, the Rowlett Explorer program training goes far beyond the school environment and basic training. Member training includes CERT, Amateur Radio, CPR/AED/First Aid, climbing, rappelling, ropes/knots, National Association of Search and Rescue training, National Incident Management System courses, Incident Command, and other skills.
Over the past three years, the Post has contributed nearly 3,900 service hours in training, meetings and support. But more important than the number of hours is the positive example of emergency preparedness the Post sets day in and day out. The Explorer Post develops character, self-confidence and leadership that is central to the purpose of the program. In addition to supporting emergency responders during a disaster, the Explorer program builds strong working relationships between emergency responders and the communities they serve. These relationships are critical because effectively responding to emergencies and severe weather requires a team effort – made up of the individuals, families, community leaders, organizations and businesses in each local community.
The more we train our youth in these critical areas, the better prepared our community becomes with dealing with uncommon situations. We are not only training our youth in disaster preparedness, we are preparing tomorrow’s leaders. There is no better example of that than Rowlett Explorer Post One, and I encourage your community to look at how you can get youth involved in disaster preparedness.
Thanks for reading and letting me share how we are a force of nature in Rowlett!