Disaster preparedness report to diocesan convention
The diocesan ministry of Disaster Preparedness is in coordination with the U.S. Disaster Program of the denomination’s Episcopal Relief & Development agency. Deacon Jerre Birdsong and Deacon Nancy Belcher have been appointed by the bishop as Diocesan Disaster Coordinators (DDCs). The DDCs and Canon to the Ordinary Joe Chambers are the current members of the Diocesan Disaster Committee, and additional congregants are invited to join.
The mission of the U.S. Disaster Program is as follows:
inspire, connect, and equip leaders of U.S. dioceses in The Episcopal Church
prepare for hazards that might affect their communities
mitigate the impact of disasters
help vulnerable people make a full and sustained recovery.
The DDCs assist congregations in identifying their capacity to support affected communities, and in the case of an actual disaster, assisting in assessing needs, and implementing the response in determining how to best get resources where needed. The Episcopal Asset Map initiative is the primary means of identifying and cataloging resources which congregations have available for use in case of a disaster.
Resource needs are determined by DDCs active participation in Missouri’s Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, several local Community Organizations Active in Disasters, and the Missouri Interfaith Disaster Response Organization. In preparation for disasters, Episcopal Relief & Development provides training to diocesan disaster leaders and a wealth of resources on their website, www.episcopalrelief.org. In the short-term recovery period after an actual disaster, they provide real-time advice by phone and social media; on-site assistance through their Partners in Response program; and grants.
In the past year, the DDCs assisted congregations in reviewing and updating their asset maps, made presentations on family and congregational disaster planning, participated in numerous conference calls regarding the flooding that occurred across the entire state, and provided spiritual care and other services at several Multi-Agency Resource Centers. They worked in conjunction with the Salvation Army to bring in Episcopal Partners in Response from the Diocese of Iowa to rebuild the basement of a house damaged in previous flooding.
Special thanks go to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church for providing all the meals for our partners from Iowa and to Beth Felice for communicating ways congregants could make contributions to assist flood victims and for entering essential information into the Episcopal Asset Map.