Phases of a Disaster
A time for planning and training. This is not a one time event or single training session – preparedness is an on-going process. The West Michigan Annual Conference, in cooperation with UMCOR, offers several opportunities for training at this level, including; Connecting Neighbors and Basic Early Response Team training. Local churches are encouraged to become involved in a local / community disaster preparedness, or have a representative serve as part of a local VOAD (volunteer organizations active in disaster).
Emergency Phase – During the emergency phase, the best thing the church can do is encourage people to pray. This is the time when emergency crews are rescuing survivors, clearing debris and restoring utilities. Churches may also encourage a “neighbor to neighbor” type ministry.
Relief Phase – During the relief part of response there is a lot of important activity – damage assessment, media coverage and emergency assistance for immediate needs. Trained Early Response Team’s are invited in during the relief phase. Their primary goal is to provide a caring Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster. This provides visibility to the church, and immediate response to the survivors. United Methodists are known as the first ones to arrive at a disaster.
A time of putting things back to “normal,” local churches become more involved. For some it is short term, for others it is a long and complex situation. UMVIM is invited to be involved in rebuilding and repairing damages or destroyed homes. Local churches are encouraged to receive Case Management training, which will enable them to better serve those in the community. This is the area that United Methodists are best known for; being the last ones to leave, staying to the very end of the recovery.
Doing what is possible to prevent disaster related damage, reviewing plans and response for ways to improve. Mitigation is different from preparedness, in that it occurs after a disaster. This is a time for the church and community to assess response plans, community collaboration, etc…