PREPARING YOUR CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE
The following is an outline of the presentation given to church and synagogue leaders by Kate Hale, the former Director of the Metro-Dade (Fla.) Office of Emergency Management. It should be thought-provoking and useful for any religious or civic group that owns a building.
It takes a congregation, step by step, through the decision-making process necessary to adequately prepare its members and property for the annual hurricane season and for an impending storm. Each religious institution is urged to consider what it wishes to be capable of accomplishing in a storm's aftermath and what help it will plan to provide to its members and/or people of similar faith who must evacuate coastal areas but have no suitable place to go.
I. HOW TO BEGIN
A. Establish a Hurricane Committee
B. Draft a plan with post-storm and preparedness components
1. Exactly who will do exactly what
2. Exactly when, in relation to tasks at their own homes
C. What must be done to the buildings and grounds
1. At start of season
2. At announcement of a hurricane watch
D. Assess risks to the property and vulnerability to wind, flying
debris, saltwater flooding and freshwater flooding
E. In light of new building codes, reevaluate insurance coverage
F. Collect storm plans of staff and each committee member
G. Collect storm plans of every active (and inactive) member
1. Who needs help getting their home ready?
2. Who needs the basic information on what supplies to put aside?
3. Who needs a place to go when evacuation is ordered?
4. Who will need transportation to get there?
5. Is the place they are going adequately prepared to meet their needs?
6. Who will need additional special help?
II. THE RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION AS A BUSINESS
(Plan to minimize post-storm disruption of your normal ministry)
A. Protect your institution's physical assets
1. Sacred objects and holy books
2. Stained glass and other windows
4. Musical instruments
5. Furniture, prayer and musical books, art hangings and other
6. Computers, peripherals and other office equipment
B. Prioritize pre-storm protection
C. Protect essential congregational records
1. Make back-up copies
2. Arrange for storage far from danger
3. Arrange for periodic updating
D. Plan duties of paid staff and key volunteers
1. Determine personal plans/responsibilities
2. For employees: pre-storm release/post-storm callback
procedures; back-up plan for post-storm callback
b. At announcement of hurricane watch
c. When hurricane warning is issued
d. Day 1 of aftermath
e. Responsibilities during immediate recovery
1. Power supply
4. What can/should we strive to provide
to members and neighborhood?
5. Planning for transition back to normal operations
6. Plans B and C
F. Other resources
1. Contacts of hurricane committee members
2. Denominational resources
3. Role of PTA if your institution has a day school
4. Boy or Girl Scouts that meet in your buildings
5. Other resources "hidden" in those touched
by your outreach efforts
6. Interfaith coalitions elsewhere in your area or state.
III. THE RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION AS A COMMUNITY
A. Promoting preparedness to and for each member
1. Hurricane season begins June 1
a. Education for those who have not experienced
a full-strength hurricane
b. Further focus on newcomers
B. Outreach to identify special needs
1. Members of the congregation
a. Arrangements for pets
b. Special diets
d. Non-Red Cross sheltering
e. Help with preparedness
2. The institution's neighborhood
3. Mental health concerns
a. What to expect - handling fear
4. Plan for assessing each member's situation in the aftermath
a. Becoming a private shelter - caring for
elderly members or those with special needs
5. Consider "pairing up" to shelter members of sister institutions who must evacuate but have no place to go
6. Call Red Cross for training and building evaluation
7. Recruit staff
8. Prepare storage of food, cots, radios, generator, etc.
a. Supplies to store before hurricane season
1. Plastic for emergency "dry-ins"
2. Food and water - store now, use as
Thanksgiving baskets after season
IV. THE RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION IN THE COMMUNITY
A. Reach out to people with special needs in the neighborhood
B. Become a public shelter
1. Call Red Cross to enroll
C. Adopt-A-Shelter - send volunteers to a Red Cross or private
shelter run by a church or synagogue of your denomination
1. Recruit at least three members to be trained to help at a
D. Other volunteer opportunities
1. Denominational programs
2. Child care
3. Post-storm traffic control
4. Spray paint street names on intersection pavement
V. TRAIN STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
VI. EXERCISES AND PRACTICE DRILLS