Contributed by Bob Gathany
PAR, Prepare And Respond, was formed in response to the destruction from the April 2011 storms that spawned 39 tornadoes across North Alabama. Groups of faith-based volunteers continued to work for weeks after these devastating storms and soon they united to become an active group committed to disaster response.
PAR’s primary mission is to help following local disasters by giving assistance to meet the needs of victims in North Alabama and surrounding areas. PAR specializes in removing trees and debris from tornadoes, thunderstorms, ice storms and floods. They also secure properties from further damage by tarping roofs, boarding doors and windows and cleaning up flood damage. PAR aids the community by helping the disabled, homebound and uninsured.
As needed, PAR also travels to other states to assist in large-scale disaster clean-ups. Recently teams of PAR volunteers with equipment helped in Texas, North Carolina and Florida including four deployments to Panama City, Florida following Hurricane Michael. When working out of state, PAR often partners with national disaster relief organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse and Hope Force International.
PAR’s aim is to prepare before a storm so they can respond after the storm. They work in advance to have both people and equipment at the ready to help after a disastrous event. The team doesn’t just show up with volunteers, but also with heavy equipment to get the job done.
Training opportunities are offered throughout the year to provide volunteers with the skills needed when disaster strikes. These include on-site and hands-on practice with equipment and skilled instructors. Volunteers are qualified to effectively and quickly assist when the need arises.
Local churches maintain their own disaster relief trailers stocked with chainsaws, generators, power tools and other needed items. A special mud-out trailer is equipped for dealing with flood damage. PAR also maintains heavy equipment such as bobcats, backhoes, manlifts, dump trailers and vehicles for transporting equipment and volunteers.
PAR is a 501c3 organization of The Huntsville Dream Center. It is made up entirely of volunteers – male and female, young and old, businesses and churches of all denominations. It is fully funded by charitable donations and proceeds from an annual Fall golf tournament.
For more information or to see more photos of PAR in action and to get involved yourself, check out Facebook.com/PrepareAndRespond/ or visit parforthecause.org.