The Woodward News

March 1, 2013

CERV team forming to help area residents

Chris Cooper
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — To help aid in blizzard recovery efforts, the Woodward County Christian Emergency Response Volunteer (CERV) team will be working this weekend to clear off the porches, sidewalks, and driveways of local residents in need.

The CERV is comprised of various church volunteer groups and organized through Woodward's Office of Emergency Management.

Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer explained that the group will be working diligently starting Friday and into the weekend to clear walkways and driveways of residents who are unable to do so themselves.

"We have a lot of elderly, handicapped, and single mothers in the area that will be unable to dig out their driveways and sidewalks themselves," Lehenbauer said.

The goal of the volunteers' efforts will be "to make sure they can get their vehicles out, to make sure people can get out without slipping, and that emergency crews can reach them if need be," he said.

On Thursday, Lehenbauer said the group already had a dozen residences lined up for clearing.  

Those who have an impediment and would like to request assistance having snow cleared by a CERV team, must send their name, address, and a brief description of the condition that prohibits them from being able to clear the snow themselves and emailing this information to  

Those without e-mail can leave Lehenbauer a voicemail or text message with the required information at (405) 466-5356, though emails are strongly preferred.

The CERV teams will be working anywhere in Woodward County they are able to reach, Lehenbauer said. The volunteers do not have any heavy equipment, so they will be limited in their ability to reach areas, but they will make an effort to reach anywhere within the county they can, he said.

Lehenbauer said the assistance requests will be evaluated so that the CERV may help those most in need.

"We don't have the manpower to assist every house, but if they meet the criteria and don't have friends or family to help, we'd be happy to come out," he said.

Lehenbauer said that CERV formed during the Woodward tornado to assist with special need incidents that arose during disasters or crisis. He explained that, as a government agency, the Emergency Management Office is limited in the amount of assistance it can provide on private property, so the CERV teams fill in the gap.

However, the Emergency Management Office aids CERV by providing safety and first aid training for the volunteers, as well as coordination and communication for the teams as to where they are needed.

CERV currently has around 20 volunteers lined up to aid in cleanup efforts, but Lehenbauer said he hopes to see that number increase and maybe even double.

Those interested in volunteering for the CERV team are encouraged to speak with their church officials and/or to contact Lehenbauer at the same e-mail address or phone number listed above.