Consultant to the Bishop Elect
As we anticipate the arrival of a major storm, it is a good time to remind ourselves of the precautions we need to take with our buildings and the actions we can take as a faith community.
First: Bishop-elect Knisely and I would like to have each clergyperson’s cell phone number so we can contact you – both in the case of an emergency such as this one might become and just so we can contact you in general. Please email that to RMoulton@episcopalri.org. She keeps a list of all churches and clergy on the server that we can get on our IPhones as we travel around so getting this up to date is important.
Second: Check with your local emergency response office for information relevant to your community. Each congregation’s situation will be different, but here are some things to consider:
· Batten down the hatches! Make sure windows are closed tightly – if you are near the coast you may need to consider additional protection. Check around the church yard to make sure there aren’t any cans, planters or other objects that have the potential to become flying missles.
· Turn off propane tanks and unplug appliances -- especially computers!
· Turn refrigerators and freezers to the highest setting and tape around the door frames to keep food as cold for as long as possible if electricity goes out.
· If you anticipate that anyone will be in the church during the storm, put flashlights in key locations (with fresh batteries).
· If you have a sanctuary lamp, it is probably best to extinguish the flame during the storm.
· Make a list or, if you have one, review the list of people in your parish who live alone or who may be vulnerable for any reason (which isn’t just elderly people!). Find a way to make sure someone will check up on those folks to make sure they are OK or find help, if needed. You can do this in a variety of ways: recruit partners, let people self-select a partner, etc. You may also want to notify police and fire departments of vulnerable people, if that's your community's system. In any case, it is important to have a way to make sure that someone will check on people if that's necessary.
· This is a good time to make sure your parish contact list is up to date. Collect cell phone numbers, confirm addresses, etc. Also, you might want to gather as information about who will be out of town so you don’t go hunting for someone who is in Florida!
· You may want to identify people who are ready, willing and able to assist should you need extra hearts and hands if the situation requires.
· In any case, encourage people to follow emergency preparedness suggestions offered by your local community – and by common sense!
· If your parish hall serves as an emergency shelter or you plan to make it available as one, contact your local emergency response office for information and requirements.
· If you think you might end up with folks coming to the parish for shelter (not as an official shelter but as a back up option), ask parishioners to bring blankets, pillows, air mattresses, water, food, baby supplies, etc. so you are equipped to handle that should the need arise. You can, for example, ask people to drop off boxes labeled with their name and then if the supplies aren’t needed they can take them home again the next Sunday.
· Take time to talk about options, strategies, etc. so you have an idea of who to contact, things to do (or not do). Sometimes just talking about emergency preparedness can help us remember what we need to do to get ready.
The Episcopal Relief and Development website has some information you might find helpful: http://www.er-d.org/resourcelibrary. In particular, there is an article on how to set up an emergency shelter inyour parish hall. http://www.er-d.org/userfiles/Post-HOW-TO_Yonkers(1).pdf.
Thanks to all of you for being on the front lines of ministry at times like this. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. And know that we will hold you in our prayers in the days ahead.
~Linda (on behalf of the diocesan staff)