“Disasters happen everywhere…and when they do, everyone is impacted”
The Minnesota Conference of the UCC encourages all churches and church members to take some simple steps to prepare for disasters. Being prepared can help reduce the losses and speed the response and recovery process. The program has four phases: Aware, Prepare, Respond, Rebuild.
First, be aware of the disasters that can affect your community. Then learn what you can do to be prepared. These videos will introduce you to the disasters, some of the impacts, and some of the tools to help you plan:
Next, review and use the tools from the National and Minnesota Disaster Ministries to learn more about planning and for steps to develop your plan.
There are many additional resources for help in planning;
If a disaster does hit your home or your community, first make sure you and your family are safe. Follow the instructions from your local Emergency Management Officer. (When preparing your plan, you are asked to identify the Emergency Manager Officer or Organization and collaborate with them.)
When you are safe, wait. That is hard to do, but it’s the best thing to do.
- Do not go into an impacted area, even to your own home, until cleared by safety agencies.
- Do not go to the impacted area to offer help. The local, state, and federal agencies have their hands full managing the situation. They will call for volunteers when they are ready.
- Do not send anything – water, food, blankets, clothes – or anything else until you get a specific request. The agencies coordinating the situation do not have the time or the resources to manage unsolicited goods.
After the emergency agencies are gone, FEMA has finished their work, insurance settlements are made or in place, there is much, difficult work to do to get people back into their homes. Sometimes it takes years!
The National UCC Disaster Ministries is hoping to build Disaster Recovery Work Teams in all conferences. Those teams will be called on to respond and support rebuilding in communities damaged by disasters…in their community, state, across the county, or even around the world.
When a work team goes to an impacted location, the host state team will set up the logistics – housing, identify jobs to be done, in some cases lodging-to-site transportation. The visiting team only has to be prepared to work.
To be effective, we recommend that the work teams do some training. That can be done anytime, or just before leaving for a work commitment.
To learn more about being on a work team, review the Disaster Recovery Volunteer Orientation Packet prepared for volunteers in the Pennsylvania Northeast Conference.
The United Church of Christ has a long history of responding to disasters around the world. To learn more about the UCC disaster response programs, see the Disaster Ministries Summary.