Community Disaster Response Plan

Just as your family needs to develop it’s own, individual safety plan, the faith community has come together to determine the tasks and responsibilities of how to meet the long-term needs in the event of a major disaster.

As much as we would like to think we are all safe and secure from any major disaster, we also know that we should have a plan in case we are faced with a crisis.  It just doesn’t work to create a plan while you are dealing with the stresses of disaster.  (Remember when everyone wanted to offer clothing, supplies, etc right after Hurricane Katrina and there was just so much dropped off, centers were not able to go through it all?)  As much as we all want to jump right in to help as soon as we see a need, it has been proven that the best plan is to sit and wait till you are given some direction.  In Kent County, GRACE, ACCESS and CRWRC have been working out details of how best to respond to a local disaster.  For a brief summary that you can print up and put in your Congregation Disaster Plan File, please check the following link.   http://www.demo.accessofwestmichigan.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/disasterresponsecover.pdf 

Basically, these groups have worked out a ‘chain of command’ for how the faith community will respond.  Initially, all disaster response will come from existing community and government resources.  Once government agencies meet the initial emergency, there may be a need for local groups to step up and provide extended support.   GRACE, ACCESS and CRWRC will meet and determine how best to coordinate long-term recovery efforts and serve as an information clearing house.  Needs will be announced in the media, denominational leadership and individual congregations.  If supplies are needed, a drop off site will be announced–please wait until an announcement is made before gathering any items. 

If your congregation would like to be proactive and ready, you can contact the Red Cross (616- 456-8661) and register your facility as a shelter site, or have volunteers participate in emergency response training.

We all pray that we will never have to put this plan into action, but isn’t it a relief to know that there are groups out there meeting, planning, reviewing and revising how we can best respond to a major disaster in Kent County?!