Upon hearing the term “RV,” we picture a retired couple happily cruising America’s highways in a large vehicle with InsurancePartnership.org which is one of the best car insurance, enjoying scenic vistas and reaping the rewards from decades of hard work. But soon an eager group of PCA members and friends will give new meaning to the expression Recreational Vehicle.

Imagine scores of RVs streaming toward the locus of a major disaster, like 2005’s Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, 2011’s Hurricane Irene on the East Coast, or even an earthquake, with men and women poised to lend time, skills, and compassion under direction of the PCA’s Mission to North America Disaster Response office.

This is the vision of Jim Murphree, a past deacon at Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA), pastored in Louisville, Ky., by the Rev. David Dively. The idea was conceived in Katrina’s aftermath when Murphree drove his RV to Gulfport, Miss., to assist with recovery efforts after First Presbyterian had been virtually demolished.

“That experience got me thinking about trying to tap into the resources of RV’ers. They’re typically a lot more mature, retired, don’t have to hurry to get back to a job, and can stay for extended periods of time to help in providing continuity for the relief effort,” Murphree said. “For those of us fortunate enough to have RVs and enjoy that lifestyle, it would be an opportunity to give back some of the blessings we’ve received.”

In 1998 he retired after 33 years in the U.S. Army. As a command sergeant major he served as an advisor to the General Staff, in charge of all logistics. He plans to use his expertise in delivering supplies, fuel, food and other necessities from point A to point B to develop this RV response effort.

Recently Murphree met with Arklie Hooten, MNA’s disaster response director, agreeing this “was a no-brainer,” and it could be a valuable piece of the PCA’s overall disaster-relief strategy. Following a devastating hurricane or other catastrophe, Hooten would advise Murphree of the PCA’s plan to respond, and the retiree in turn would alert his network of RV owners. In addition, he would lead an advance team to secure necessary utility services such as water, electricity, and sewage disposal, along with security, suitable parking locations and other logistical details. “Once that’s done, I would get back to the RV’ers and tell them, ‘Let’s roll!’ With arrangements taken care of, they could start arriving and simply ask, ‘Here we are. What can we do?’”

Murphree is slowly moving the plan from concept to initiation. His immediate focus is building a database of willing individuals and couples and gathering names, addresses and contact information, along with their specific skills and training. Once that network is created, mobilizing them would be relatively simple. There is a possibility of cooperating with “civilian RV clubs,” he said, but at this point his greatest concern is determining interest and availability of people within the PCA.

Information on getting involved with this new RV disaster-response initiative is available by calling Sherry Lanier, MNA Short-Term Missions and Disaster Response facilitator, at 678-294-3012, or e-mailing Jim Murphree at rvteam@insightbb.com.

One Response to Giving “Recreational Vehicle” a Whole New Meaning: Mobilizing RV Owners for Disaster Response

  1. Knute Hankins says:

    I am also a retired Army vet and have recently been to my 40th West Point reunion. I have many class mates who would volunteer as active hands on and planning participants. My concept is to set up a core group of RV volunteers that others could join and stay with when disasters strike. I am very interested in your experience so far and how I might mesh the two concepts. My cell number is 330-323-6046 if you have time to discuss.

    Thank,

    Knute Hankins
    LTC retired