St. Bernard Project offers disaster response training

Jacob Harp, Staff Writer


In order to ensure community members are adequately prepared in the event of a natural disaster, the City of Joplin, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and Missouri Southern partnered with the St. Bernard Project to offer a series of training sessions for local business owners and homeowners.  

Joplin is no stranger to the ravaging effects that the weather can have on a community. The St. Bernard Project, an organization dedicated to shortening the time between a disaster and recovery, is no stranger to Joplin. 

More than 180 homes were repaired by teams from the St. Bernard Project in conjunction with Rebuild Joplin following the tornado that devastated the Joplin area in 2011.  

The training sessions are being offered by Charlie Martel, Director of the St. Bernard Project’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab, and Autumn Lotze, Disaster Resilience and Recovery Specialist, and will continue until February 18.  

On the subject of college student emergency preparedness, Autumn Lotze said that students, first and foremost, need to “be mindful of [the] emergency steps,” which can be found on bulletin boards across campus.  

Charlie Martel also added that it is important for students to have the ability to receive emergency information on their phones, which can be accessed through apps or texts from local emergency services.  

Martel also had an interesting story to tell. 

His work with the St. Bernard Project began as a volunteer in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

A college professor at the time, he spent time gutting houses alongside his students. 

He then wrote a paper on Katrina and was given a senate job investigating the disaster and its effects.  

During his time working for the senate, Martel was introduced to the founders of the St. Bernard Project, and he was drawn to their passion and strategies for dealing with disaster-afflicted areas. 

This introduction eventually turned into a job for Martel, now the Director of the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Lab for the organization.  

Beyond his wealth of disaster preparation knowledge, Martel offers this advice to college students: “Figure out what really moves your heart and volunteer to do it.”  For more information about the St. Bernard Project and how you can get involved, visit their website at 

For more information about other safety training being offered, contact Karen Bradshaw, Director of Missouri Southern Center for Entrepreneurship at 417-625-9520.