Preparation most important part of hurricane response
By Alyson Rockhold - En Español
Rev. Godfrey Hubert explains that disaster response is like youth soccer. It's heartwarming to see the enormous outpouring of love from churches, but it's also a bit disconcerting because of the disparity in execution. The Disaster Coordinator for the Texas Annual Conference explains that some teams perform like all-stars and others struggle. The difference lies mostly in training and preparation.
Seeing this need, Hubert and other church leaders began teaching congregations how “to respond promptly and effectively when the next storm strikes.” Eventually, they created the Texas Congregational Disaster Readiness (TXCDR) Program to coordinate how faith communities respond to natural disasters.
Experts state that the three predictors of a successful disaster response are communication, coordination, and execution. Hubert says that TXCDR seeks to address all three.
TXCDR has developed a communication platform and created a coordinated plan of action for how to handle the next natural disaster. Hubert believes that “we now have a workable plan and better-trained volunteers who will expedite relief after a storm. We are better prepared than ever before.” TXCDR has successfully executed disaster responses to recent storms including Hurricane Ida.
Here are three easy steps for your church to get ready to respond to the next disaster: Join, Train, and Equip.
Your church can join TXCDR by filling out the form at https://txcdr.org/join-txcdr. This involves sharing basic information about your church as well as assigning a Disaster Readiness Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator. These coordinators will be the point people for disaster relief within your church.
One unique part of TXCDR is its robust communication system. They can call, text, email, and send voicemails to coordinators directly. This cuts down on confusion and enables participants to quickly respond to what is happening in their area.
Good communication will allow churches to work strategically so that everyone gets the help they need. During some disasters, there can be too many volunteers and others with none, leading to the most vulnerable communities being unserved.
Currently over half of the 250 participating churches are Methodist, but this program is open to all faith communities.
Once a church joins TXCDR, its congregants can be trained in any of the 12 areas of response, including sheltering, transportation, laundry services, property clean-up and supply distribution. TXCDR has trained over 1,500 volunteers and is always looking for more.
Hubert says that “the best-conceived plans are only as good as those who do the work. Training is an integral part of preparedness. Without it, families are likely to be revictimized.” There are stories of well-meaning, untrained volunteers causing additional damage to houses during a hurricane. TXCDR’s training will help prevent that from occurring.
The Texas Annual Conference is currently holding a Tool Drive to create 24 Muck, Gut and Tarp Kits. These will be ready and waiting to be deployed when needed. In addition to donating new or gently used tools towards the district’s efforts, congregations are also advised to assemble their own kit to keep at their church.
Each Muck, Gut, and Tarp Kit will equip a six-person team. Some of the needed supplies include prybars, hammers, tape measurers, wire cutters, a first aid kit, a dolly and fans, just to name a few. All items should be dropped off at the District Collection Site by August 1. (For more information on District sites, contact Godfrey Hubert firstname.lastname@example.org). Volunteers will take them from the District Collection Site to the Mission Center in Conroe. Monetary donations are also welcome.
Churches can be ready for the next disaster by joining TXCDR, going through their training, and equipping future relief efforts.
Preparing for disasters serves both practical and spiritual purposes. According to Hubert, “we have a responsibility above and beyond anything else to stand by people who are going through the worst that our world can do to them.” The most vulnerable members of our society usually suffer disproportionately during disasters and, as financial strains worsen, mental health struggles deepen, and physical problems are exacerbated.
Disaster relief is also spiritually significant because “serving others in the worst of times is at the core of our mandate.” Hubert referenced the Good Samaritan as an example of this principle in action.
Finally, Hubert encourages the church to start preparing because “there is nothing a church can ever do that will give them more goodwill in a community than when they respond favorably and well to a disaster.”