Disaster Preparedness: Storm warnings and flooding

What should churches and individuals do to prepare before flooding occurs? People and churches located in flood-prone areas shouldn’t wait until the rain begins to prepare. The power of flood waters is enormous and, once it starts, it’s very hard to fight. The best thing you can do is to have your home and church ready before the water comes.

Mitigation – How to Prepare for Floods

What churches can do to prepare:

  1. Store valuables (Bibles, altar care items, etc.) in waterproof containers and place large items in garbage bags. Store them in a safe location, perhaps on the highest level to avoid flood damage.
  2. Buy extra plastic storage bins to have on hand. You can fill these with valuables at the last minute.
  3. Cover pianos, organs, altar area, computer and printers with a blue tarp or plastic especially if you have an aging roof.
  4. Store all hazardous materials such as poisons and solvents in a sturdy, latched or locked cabinet in a well-ventilated area. Check your janitors closet to make sure it is secure.
  5. Install sliding bolts or childproof latches on all cabinet doors. This will keep the doors closed and prevent contents from falling.
  6. Secure your large appliances, especially your water heater, with flexible cable, braided wire, or metal strapping. This will keep them from toppling.
  7. Anchor tall bookcases, china closets and file cabinets with “L” brackets, corner brackets, aluminum molding or eyebolts, depending on the item. Anchoring furniture so that it remains upright not only helps prevent injuries but also helps protect both the furniture and its contents.
  8. Anchor propane tanks and gas cylinders.

In the future:

Make sure your Church Connection Administrator has completed the Disaster Response Survey in the Church Profile in the Connection Database.  This important information is now part of the Charge Conference information required of each church.  It will be used by the Disaster Response Team in case of a disaster in our area.

What members can do to prepare:

  1. Learn flood-warning signs and your community’s alert signals by calling your city hall or mayor’s office. Many cities have their own criteria for sounding alarms.
  2. In the event of rising waters, you’ll need to exit in a hurry. Designate a place for family to meet outside the neighborhood. Make sure all family members know the address and phone number.
  3. Know where emergency shelters are located.
  4. Know the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children’s school or child care center, as well as other places where your family spends time (i.e. church, gym, rec center).
  5. Learn safe routes to higher ground. You may need to drive 20 to 50 miles to locate a safe place. Remember to map more than one route, in case bridges are out or roads are blocked.
  6. Keep your car’s gas tank full if you may need to evacuate. During emergencies filling stations may be closed. Never store extra fuel in the garage – this could be dangerous.
  7. Always have extra cash on hand (at least $100 or so) because ATMs and credit card machines won’t work if the power’s out. Do this even if you aren’t planning to evacuate.
  8. Print copies of the Emergency Contact List and keep them by your phones for easy access. Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance.
  9. Meet with neighbors either informally or through a neighborhood group to create a neighborhood preparedness plan. Make a note of neighbors or nearby relatives who may require extra assistance.

If flooding occurs in your community, Pastors and/or lay leaders are encouraged to contact me so that we can begin to develop a conference response.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Debra DePrinzio, EPC Disaster Response Coordinator at 215-919-9789 (cell), email: debra_deprinzio@clement.com(work) or ddeprinzio@comcast.net(home)