The following was posted today by the Association for Episcopal Deacons’ Domestic Poverty Taskforce.  It came as an email, and didn’t link to a website. so it made sense to copy it and attribute it to the Deacons who gathered the information. It’s a “keeper” — you never know when the information could come in handy… Thank’s Mary Lee for suggesting we post this.

Deacon Elaine Clements (Louisiana) deaconelaine@gmail.com and Deacon Carol Borne Spencer (Mississippi) cbstew@bellsouth.net compiled the resourses mentioned in the article. Their expertise and critiques were essential in compiling the information below.

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WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

When Christians respond to a tornado, a flood, a wildfire or a hurricane, they become the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that is hurting.  Each disaster has three parts:

  • Emergency Response:  Ministry to the immediate need for health and safety for all of God’s children. This ministry is best left to experienced responders and professionals. (1 day to 3 weeks)
  • Recovery:  Supplying the basic needs for living including food, hygiene, shelter, money, removal of debris, recovery or replacement of personal items, grief support, connection with Governmental and non-Governmental agencies providers of service. (3 days to 24 months
  •  Re-building:  Working with others as instruments of God’s grace to rebuild strong and just communities. (from Day 1 onward)

YOUR ROLE IN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE:

Most people want to jump in and get involved right away, but there are important things you must do immediately to pave the road to recovery.
Do NOT try to go into the areas affected by the disaster unless you are working with a recognized entity like The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, or a local disaster service group.

Instead, choose some of these ways for your churches to make a real difference:

  1.  Check to be sure that all the members of your parish are safe and do not have immediate needs. Respond to those who are affected.
  2.  Use your church or parish hall as a collection point for donated supplies.
  3.  The National Voluntary Association of Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) has an excellent website http://www.nvoad.org/   Make this your “first stop” to learn what is already being done , what is really needed  and how you can fit into the plan.
  4.  Use the NVOAD site to make a list of contact numbers to hand out to parishioners who wish to volunteer at community agencies.
  5.  Update your parish website and social media pages to keep members informed of needs on a timely basis.
  6.  Select from the many resources offered by Episcopal Relief and Development for responding to disasters ERD resource library
  7.  Recruit volunteers to donate and package items to make up hygiene kits Hygiene kits  or kits to be used for cleaning supplies Clean up supplies and kits
  8.  Put out a special call for donations to existing feeding sites, food pantries and clothing stores  in areas not affected by the disaster Their supplies will diminish while the focus shifts to the victims of disaster.
  9.  Plan a community picnic or barbecue or other event to which all members of the community are invited.
  10.  Pray for and donate to shelter for the people who are hurting and for the first responders entrusted with their care.

YOUR ROLE DURING RECOVERY:

During recovery the Church can become the focus for many and varied opportunities for service.

  1.  Set up or refine your local disaster communication program.  Deacon Tracy Middleton shares her excellent ideas through Episcopal Relief and Development.
  2. Find her advice at http://www.er-d.org/resourcelibrary – scroll down to “Tips and Lessons.”
  3.  Be aware of and comply with the FEMA requirements to serve in affected areas. This may include organizing a way for parishioners to register in advance as a volunteer in order to work in specific areas.
  4.  See how other dioceses affected by disaster are updating their response plans. The Diocese of Mississippi http://www.dioms.org and the Diocese of Louisiana http://www.edola.org provide models for preparedness and response.
  5.  Work with local donation sites to sort and transport supplies for distribution. Recruit teams from your church to help in this way.
  6.  BE PRACTICAL ABOUT DONATIONS!  People who have lost housing or transportation do not need a lot of “stuff”.  For ideas about what is needed visit the American Red Cross site http://www.redcross.org/.  Choose the tabs “Recover After a Disaster” (under the heading ‘Getting Assistance’) and “Prepare Your Home and Family” (under the heading ‘Preparing and Getting Trained’) to see the items that are needed most.
  7.  Give as much money as you can to reputable agencies, Episcopal Relief and Development Give Now to ERD,  to your own Diocesan Relief Fund, The American Red Cross, or your local United Way.
  8.  Encourage church groups to take on a specific project. Focus on long-term needs rather than short-term goals.  Work with other faith groups to increase your effectiveness.
  9. Consider inviting some parishioners to take part in a response preparedness training program offered through Episcopal Relief and Development Serve through ERD.  More options for training are available through the Methodist Church UMCOR Training or through The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA)  programs for response. ELCA Disaster response
  10.  Continue to pray for those affected by the disaster and for the communities in which they live.

 YOUR ROLE DURING REBUILDING:

  1. While this third phase is often viewed as the least glamorous part of the Church’s response, it is the most important to engaging the diakonia of believers.
  2.  Begin talking and preaching about the Christ’s message of love for all people. Take the focus off the “victims” and place it on redemption and grace.
  3.  Learn the facts about how the disaster has affected housing, education, employment, the tax base, or other dimensions of your community. Use this to inform how your parish spends its time and money.
  4.  Encourage people in your parish to partner with specific institutions and agencies (for example, your local Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity) whose focus is on building homes and communities.
  5.  Look for good models of the ways that other communities that are rebuilding after disaster. The Jericho Road Project in New Orleans is one of these. http://www.jerichohousing.org.
  6.  Read the newspaper. Keep up with how your community is healing. Use this information to focus your outreach.
  7.  Learn about the work of the National Housing Trust Fund Ideas for revitalizing neighborhoods and how they are working to promote sustainable communities.
  8.  Consider inviting and hosting volunteer groups from other parts of the nation to help with specific rebuilding projects.  Episcopal Relief and Development can help with this.
  9. Volunteer Through Episcopal Relief and Development
  10.  Pray for your community and all the places in which God’s people live in this nation and beyond.

 A Parting Thought:

Christ has no body on earth, but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on this world.  Yours are the feet with which He walks doing good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the earth.

St. Teresa of Avila

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