Disaster Preparedness and Response
If you are ordered to evacuate or plan to evacuate the area,
TEXT the District Superintendent on his cell phone IMMEDIATELY
or E-MAIL him and his Administrative Assistant IMMEDIATELY.
We need to know your whereabouts.
Pastors evacuating out of the area should return ASAP.
Perform a damage assessment of all property as soon as can safely be done.
Immediately report damage to your insurer, District Superintendent,
Don't wait until disaster strikes to develop response plans! Disasters DO happen!
(Pictured above is Gulf Breeze UMC during May 2014 flooding.)
(Pictured below is Mt. Carmel UMC during May 2014 fire.)
(Pictured at bottom of page is Century UMC after February 2016 tornado.)
Resources to Help You Prepare and Respond
UMVIM Coordinator for the Alabama-West Florida Conference
and former Pensacola District Disaster Response Coordinator 2005-2013
Pastors are encouraged to follow storm tracks closely and to plan ahead for the possibility that a storm could impact the local area. Accordingly, please implement the following protocol.
1. Pastors should review their church disaster plan with the church business administrator and Trustee chairperson to make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Begin implementing the steps of your disaster plan well in advance of any anticipated landfall.
2. If you have not done so recently, back up important church files and documents, and store the back up in a secure location, preferably away from the church. Portable hard drives to back up church computers can be purchased at reasonable prices at local office supply or electronics stores.
3. If you do not have one, consider purchasing a charger for your cell phone that will work in your automobile. In the event of a power outage, you will still be able to charge and use your cell phone.
4. In the event the storm tracks into the eastern or central gulf, begin securing church property well in advance of the storm, preferably 24 to 36 hours ahead of landfall. Remember that your church staff and volunteers will need time to secure their own homes and property.
5. In the event that the projected landfall is in our district, pastors should first attend to their own safety and the safety of their families. In the event that a pastor must evacuate, he/she must contact the district superintendent and advise him of the pastor's anticipated relocation and contact information. Pastors who are forced to evacuate should return as soon as possible. Your congregation needs you.
6. In the event of landfall within the district, pastors, in conjunction with the church business administrator and Trustee chairperson, should perform a damage assessment of all church property as soon as such an assessment can be done safely. Report any damage to your insurer and to the district superintendent and/or district disaster response coordinator.
7. Watch for e-mail instructions from the district office in the upcoming days.
8. Monitor the Conference website for alerts - www.awfumc.org or (even better) http://www.facebook.com/AWFUMC
Being Prepared for Response to Natural Disaster
by Amelia Fletcher
The Alabama-West Florida Conference trains and prepares for response to natural disaster. Through Connecting Neighbors workshops local congregations write and organize their individual responses to disaster that might befall any church - e.g., fire, wind damage, water damage. The 2-hour workshop provides the direction and points to be considered for local response and covers protocol. Dr. Chris Perry and Amelia Fletcher are both UMCOR trained trainers for this program. Because ALL DISASTERS ARE LOCAL and always remain in the hands and attention of the community, then it should be understood that any response begins at the local level and then moves to a larger body in steps for aid. The pyramid is an illustration to remember.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR CONFERENCE RESPONSE?
LOCAL Response Leaders
DISTRICT Response Coordinators
CONFERENCE Disaster Response Coordinators
LOCAL church damage: If the local church can handle the repair and clean up without assistance, then a report/call to the District Superintendent and District Disaster Coordinator is all that is needed. A list of coordinators is on the Alabama-West Florida Conference website here.
DISTRICT: If damage is more widespread, then district church response is activated by the District Superintendent and District Response Coordinator in conversation with Conference Coordinator.
CONFERENCE: The Conference Coordinator with the help of all District Coordinators and UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) Coordinator requests aid from within the conference and decides if more involvement from the Southeastern Jurisdiction and UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is needed.
SOUTHEASTERN JURISDICTION OF UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission): The SEJ provides the communication for volunteer needs Alabama-West Florida conference requests to all jurisdictions. They also provide the framework for channeling those volunteers.
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief): UMCOR provides (only upon the request of the Bishop) trained staff, an immediate grant, and training for local volunteer groups in affected area.
THE CONNECTION: Provides support and aid from across the country to any area in need through the channels of the Jurisdictions. Of course, none of this happens in a vacuum. Your District Coordinators and Conference Coordinator are busy throughout the year and communicating updates and providing training on a local and district level.
For Questions or Scheduling a Connecting Neighbors workshop or an Early Response Team Training, contact Amelia Fletcher: 251-968-2549 or email@example.com. For current training opportunities in your area or lists of District Coordinators and contact information see the AWF Conference website. [The URL at the time of this post update is http://www.awfumc.org/disasterresponserecoveryministry.]
AL-West FL Conference Disaster Response Coordinator
P.O. Box 374, Gulf Shores, AL 36547
251-968-2411 Church Office / 251-968-2549 SM Office
251-978-8384 Cell / 251-968-7186 Fax
Disaster Response Work in Century, FL Comes to a Close
(AWF-UMC 3/16/2017) - In the months since a tornado struck Century, FL in February 2016, hundreds of volunteer teams have been in the area to help repair and reconstruct homes. The United Methodist Church, through UMCOR and the Alabama-West Florida Conference, is one of several relief agencies working together to make a difference for those who were affected by the storm. Our work there will be ending soon, and we are grateful for all the AWFC churches that sent work teams, financial support and other donations to help the people of Century. Many of the people in Century, including Ms. Jessie, are well on their way to restoration to a "new normal." We are also grateful for the excellent work of Lynn Dobry and Felic Fussner, our Florida Recovery Team. [Photo (right) is from AWFC "Focus on Mission" newsletter. Pictured l-r are Amelia Fletcher, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator; Felic Fussner, Florida Recovery Team Construction Manager; Century Homeowner Ms. Jessie; and Lynn Dobry, Florida Recovery Team Coordinator.]
AWFC Video on Local Church Disaster Preparedness
If your Church wants to know how to be better prepared for a disaster, here's the video of a recent AWFC webinar: https://vimeo.com/173934300. (Posted August 2016)
News Archive (continued)
The Cokesbury Cares Program is designed to help churches who've had a catastrophic event by offering FREE resources to help the get back on their feet. Application requires signature by the church's district superintendent and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Here is a brochure, but please note that the address on the brochure has changed. The new address is 2222 Rosa L Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37228-0988.
February 15, 2016 - EF-3 Tornado at Century, FL
(Pictured right is Century United Methodist Church after the EF-3 Tornado February 15, 2016.)
(National Weather Service) - The tornado that struck Century and McDavid on Monday was an EF-3 with winds estimated as high at 152 miles per hour, according to a National Weather Service report. The tornado followed a path 16.5 miles long and up to 300 yards wide through the North Escambia area. In total, three people were injured in the strong tornado. The tornado first touched down southwest of Lambert Bridge Road, 3.4 miles west of McDavid at 3:32 p.m. and gradually increased in strength and width as it continued northeast toward Century. The first EF-2 intensity damage was found on Holland Road in McDavid were a workshop was completely destroyed. The tornado reached peak intensity (widespread EF-2 damage with isolated EF-3 damage) as it moved into Century. The damage track continued northeast where EF-2 damage was found on Old Fannie Road in Alabama. Damage continued northeast toward Pollard, AL, where the tornado weakened and lifted.
(AWFC NewsCONNECTION August 4, 2015) - Over the past several months, the AWF Trustees have been discussing and developing a resource for local churches to use as they consider emergency preparedness in their congregation. The need for such preparedness has come to the forefront with the tragic events in Charleston, SC, and Chattanooga, TN. Emergency Guidelines for Churches can be found by clicking here. It is not a policy, it is simply a resource to “spark a conversation in your church on emergency preparedness.” The hope is that the Board of Trustees of each local church in our annual conference will consider how best to prepare for accidents, fires, natural disasters, and criminal behavior that may affect your local church.
Click here for the download and introductory article about the Alabama-West Florida Conference's "Emergency Guide for Churches."
May 14, 2014 - Church Fire at Mt. Carmel United Methodist
Mt. Carmel UMC in Jay, Florida, suffered extensive damage from a fire Wednesday morning, May 14. Firefighters from around the area worked for hours to extinguish the flames but were unable to save the sanctuary. Thankfully, no one was injured. It is believed that the fire started from lightning. To see news coverage click here. Photos are also posted on the Pensacola District Facebook page. Mt. Carmel and their pastor, Dr. Lennie Howard, will need our prayers and love in the coming weeks and months as they work to rebuild their place of worship. In times of loss, we are thankful for our connectional system. Please join us in praying for this congregation as they seek healing and peace.
May 14, 2014 - Announcement about How to Send Disaster Response Donations
Instructions from the Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church:
(1) For disasters outside the AWF Conference but within the United States, churches/individuals can either donate online at www.umcorg.org or send checks as follows:
Make checks payable to AWFC.
Clearly mark on the memo line "Disaster Response, United States, #901670."
Mail to AWF Conference Fiscal Office, 4719 Woodmere Blvd., Montgomery, AL 36106.
(2) For disasters in Alabama-West Florida (Pensacola flooding, Lee County tornadoes, etc.):
Make checks payable to AWFC.
Clearly mark on the memo line that the donation is for AWFC Disaster Response.
Mail to AWFC Fiscal Office, 4719 Woodmere Boulevard, Montgomery, AL 36106.
Instructions from the Pensacola District Office:
If disaster response donations are sent to the Pensacola District Office:
Make checks payable to Pensacola District.
Clearly mark on the memo line what the donation is for.
Mail to UMC Pensacola District Office, P.O. Box 2727, Pensacola, FL 32513-2727.
If checks sent to the district office are written payable to AWFC, they will be sent to the AWFC Office in Montgomery.
If checks sent to the district office are written payable to a particular church, the check will be sent to that church.
April 2014 - Gulf Coast Flooding
In April 2014, historic flooding occurred in our coastal communities. From Mobile, AL to Walton County, FL the 21+ inches of rain left unprecedented flood damage. Although these communities are familiar to tropical weather events, this sudden rise of water caught all unprepared.
April 20, 2010 - Deepwater Horizon Rig Explosion and Gulf Oil Spill
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