Some thoughts about disaster preparation for congregations and other organizations.

EXERCISE 1: Write down the following:

A. What kinds of disasters could hit your area this year. What’s the most recent? Most likely?

• hurricane
• tornado
• drought
• flooding
• terrorist attack
• epidemic
• earthquake

B. How many people in your organization?

C. How many home bound?

D. How many home bound within a four-block radius of your org’s campus?

E. Do you know where your members and clients and neighbors will go? How might you find out?

F. What assets do you have that would be helpful to your community in the aftermath of a disaster?

Be prepared.

INDIVIDUAL PREPARATION

You cannot care for your organization, if your family is in trouble.

For the first 72-hours, be prepared to shelter in place. This is how long it could take emergency services to get up and running after a disaster.

Proverbs 24:27 Prepare your work outside, get everything ready for you in the field; and after that build your house.

A full hurricane list is available from the National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php

A shorter list that our synod developed can be found here: http://gulfcoastsynod.org/becominga72hourlutheran/

Consider the following:
1 gal Water per person in your family
Non-perishables for 3 days
Can opener
Batteries
Flashlight
Non power phone.
Cash (power out, no credit cards)
Infant formula
Gas up the cars. Extra gas.
Generator? Not me, but others
Diapers formula
Full meds
First aid kit
Duct tape for windows

You cannot care for your org, if your family is in trouble.

ORGANIZATIONAL PREP

You cannot care for your community, if your org is in trouble.

• Where will your key staff go to shelter?
• If phones are down, texts might be up.
• Where is the go-to place for information? Off site web page. Who has access? FB page or group?
• Small group organization for contacting people.
• Wrap your records.
• Digitize your records. Grace 150 parochial records.
• Take a checkbook and or cash for emergency assistance.

PREPARE TO SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY

EXERCISE: What assets do you have?
• Space for sheltering?
• showers?
• Space for distribution. (DON’T do clothes)
• Generators (refrigerators, insulin)
• Showers?

BEST PRACTICES FOR THE AFTERMATH

If it hits you: Do you have what you need to set up a remote office? EXERCISE: What would we need to set up a remote office?
• a place
• phones
• computers
• internet access…

If your campus was destroyed or unavailable, where would you set up temporarily? Know where you would go. EXERCISE: Name three places you could go. Clear them now.

Don’t go until authorities say you can. If you get in the way of first responders you may do more harm than good.

Keep your organization functioning.

Boots on the ground. Go visit those most affected. It’s a ministry of presence. In most cases its symbolic. You can’t fix everything. Your presence says, “I care.” People feel less alone. Also, you will learn things on site that you would never learn managing the disaster from a desk.

Get rest. If you burn out, you will not be able to assist others.

If the disaster has affected others, elsewhere:

Go self-contained. If you arrive at a disaster site expecting people to provide food for you, or gasoline, you are a problem, not a solution. Disaster victims don’t need house guests to care for.

Don’t over-reach. Do what you do well.
• First responder? Most no.
• Food?
• Shelter?
• Mucking out?
• Financial resources?
• Long term recovery?

Network across org boundaries. Work ecumenically. Don’t duplicate efforts.

Again, get rest. If you burn out, you will not be able to assist others.

If you are a spiritual organization, attend to spiritual care, especially for key leaders.

A great book on spiritual care after a disaster is “Disaster Spiritual Care: Practical Clergy Responses to Community, Regional and National Tragedy,” by many people, but edited by Rabbi Stephen Roberts and Rev. Willard Ashley.

Another excellent resource is “A Ready Hope: Effective Disaster Ministry for Congregations” by Kathy Haueisen and Carol Flores.

Lutheran Disaster Response has assembled a number of excellent Christian worship resources that are both general for various kinds o disasters and specific to certain disasters: http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Congregational-Resources.aspx