Episcopal Relief & Development Focuses on Disaster Preparedness

July 12, 2010

As hurricane season begins, Episcopal Relief & Development is unveiling new tools to help dioceses and parishes plan for disasters, including a resource library and a volunteer database

“One of the five priorities laid out in Episcopal Relief & Development’s strategic plan is to equip churches and dioceses within the United States to better prepare for and respond to disasters,” said Katie Mears, Program Manager for USA Disaster Preparedness and Response. “Through this initiative, we hope to give Episcopalians the tools and resources they need to help vulnerable members of their communities recover after an emergency.”

Churches around the country have been helping their communities recover from disasters for years. To build upon the lessons learned, Episcopal Relief & Development is creating a disaster preparedness and response resource library. This unique space will allow people to share the stories, tools and best practices they have acquired through work in their local communities.

“Having these tools in one place will enable churches to learn from each other and build upon one another’s experiences,” said Mears. “We hope that any dioceses or parishes that have been engaged in disaster response work will share their experiences with us and help build this library of knowledge.”

Episcopal Relief & Development also will compile a database of people willing to volunteer in the event of a disaster, along with an inventory their skills. With this information at the ready, the organization will be able to help dioceses and parishes respond quickly—connecting them to volunteers in their communities and around the country.

“The volunteer database is important because it gives us and our partners an idea of the human resources that are available,” said Mears. “For example, if there were a flood in Nebraska tomorrow and a church there needed carpenters to help rebuild a house, we wouldn’t know who to ask. The goal of this project is to identify willing volunteers and connect them with projects that utilize their skills, whether it be carpentry, a strong back or ministry of presence.”

This initiative will help The Episcopal Church prepare for and respond to disasters more effectively, by helping dioceses connect with resources and build better preparedness programs.

“Since Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of people have volunteered to gut houses, distribute supplies and rebuild homes in Gulf Coast communities,” said Mears. “Many of these people have expressed that their post-disaster volunteer experiences have been transformative, helping them feel more connected to the communities they serve, their church and God. We hope that this program will harness the incredible energy of Episcopalians and allow more people to engage in this powerful ministry.”

To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s work, please visit www.episcopalrelief.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.