National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is "Prepared, Not Scared." Visit ready.gov/september for an abundance of resources useful for promoting preparedness all year long. And don't forget UCC Disaster Ministries' Disaster Preparedness Manual for Churches.
In this commentary for National Preparedness Month, UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth explored how the plethora of disasters that we've already experienced in 2019 is yet another wake-up call for all of us to have a preparedness plan and kit in place.
There's a lot you can do right now!
UCC Disaster Ministries is supporting an ecumenical Rapid Assessment Team to the Bahamas with funds and technical expertise. The team will identify needs of the affected population; assess local capacities to respond, including those of churches, and provide recommendations for response through the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches of which the UCC is a member.
When natural disasters go to work destroying cities, towns, and villages, people across the world want to help. Natural disasters can do lots of harm, people don’t know how to help, and there is a certain way you should help after a natural disaster. People think sending food and old clothing could help those who have lost everything but the truth is, the people who are sending those items are just making situations worse. Guest column by Myla, 12, a UCC member in Pennsylvania, based on her research of disaster recovery.
Hurricane Dorian has had a devastating impact in the Bahamas. As it climbs the U.S. Southeast coastline, Dorian’s destruction is still unfolding and far from fully quantified. UCC Disaster Ministries continues to monitor the situation through multiple channels at the state, national and international levels. The ministry is in contact with its Conference Disaster Coordinators in states in Hurricane Dorian's path.
As an increasingly dangerous Hurricane Dorian approaches the U.S. mainland, UCC’s Florida Conference and UCC Disaster Ministries’ long-term recovery work sites in Florida — rebuilding from Hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Michael — are reaching out to their clients and constituents with preparedness information. States of emergency have been declared in Florida and Southeast Georgia and, as the storm headed north, in North and South Carolina.
UCC Disaster Ministries has just released another $54,000 to the Philippines for ecumenical programs of recovery from the devastation and economic dislocation of last September's Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut). “The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone nations in the world,” said UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth. “Fortunately, we have strong partners in the region and are able to ensure that support is targeted and utilized to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”
Two Summer Communities of Service interns whose assignment was disaster recovery cited unexpected learnings, such as how "having a stable home is the foundation for everything else," said Hannah G., one of the interns. She added, "The dirt, mud and paint stains on your clothes … if you have to throw away your sneakers as I will have to … it's worth it!"