CERT trains for flood situations

Saturday, April 26, 2008 | 4:45 p.m. CDT; updated 2:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Community Emergency Response Team learned how to use sandbags to divert flood waters as part of a training session Saturday morning.

“With Mother Nature deciding to dump more rain on us, it will probably be a necessary skill,” said CERT volunteer Jason Ebersole.

To volunteer

To become a volunteer for CERT: Call the city’s Office of Volunteer Services at 874-7499 or go to

CERT is a group of 38 community members who volunteer to help the Columbia Fire Department during disaster situations such as floods and fires. CERT holds meetings about four times a year, and members are trained for search and rescue and basic medical procedures.

On Saturday, about 15 members of the group learned about emergency response in a flood and about how to establish and operate a shelter for victims of disaster.

Laura Napier, a Red Cross instructor and CERT member, headed the training for creating a shelter.

“The idea is that if I needed shelter workers, I could call (Capt. Eric Hartman of the Columbia Fire Department) and get them activated (to work a shelter),” Napier said.

Many members of CERT have already helped out in floods. Kevin Purvis said he has dealt with flooding nearly every other year for the past 15 years. He was deployed in May 2007 to help with a flood in Rocheport.

“It was a lot of (the same things done in training),” Purvis said, “but about 10 hours of it.”

Ebersole, who was not able to volunteer in Rocheport, was glad to learn about flood response before he’s in an emergency situation.

“It helps if it’s in a less stressful environment,” Ebersole said.

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