Disasters and Some Thoughts on Preparedness

By Dan Moseler
The news today, and over the past year, has been ripe with examples of disasters which are currently or have recently occurred near and far away. Examples include:
  • The currents storms which have ravaged the Texas, the mid-West, and are moving through New England. Record flooding is occurring now in the St. Louis area, and Texas has experienced two periods of major flooding this year alone.
  • The UCC school shooting has had a major impact on the Roseburg and surrounding communities, but this follows on the Charleston and Chattanooga shootings, and precedes the San Bernardino shooting.
  • The Canyon Creek Complex wildfire this past summer was the largest in recent Oregon history. At one point there were fears that the John Day community would need to evacuate, and now the impact of fire damage in the surrounding watershed is cause for concern for potential flood damage along Canyon Creek.
  • Major wildfires impacting our neighbors to the North and South have caused significant physical and economic damage that will take years to recover.
  • And the list goes on…
If we accept the fact that disasters can and do happen, what is the role of our church, and what role can and should we play in anticipating and responding to crisis? My understanding of this is influenced heavily by my experiences in twenty-five years responding to natural and human-caused disasters as a military helicopter pilot, staff officer, and commander both in peacetime and wartime. The following are a couple of my thoughts:
  • Preparedness is hard work, requires deliberate and prayerful thought and planning, but is achievable if leaders recognize the need and adapt their plans to local conditions and realities. Here, being involved in your local community planning and emergency response system is key. Understanding and mitigating recognized threats like flooding dangers or wildfire exposure are the kind of measures that often require financial planning that can require hard decisions and a multi-year effort. If God through the churches and their members is not a part of that process, what kind of results would you expect?
  • When a disaster strikes, the community “owns” the disaster. It may take quite a while for outside resources to respond. The needs of the community experiencing and recovering from disaster are overwhelmingly in responding to spiritual and emotional trauma, even in the midst of tremendous physical damage. Here is where the churches must be present, but we will never be effective unless we have members who are trained and engaged in their community response system before the disaster happens. Having a plan and trained Stephen Ministry and Red Cross volunteers are just a couple examples of deliberate preparedness measures you can take.
We have provided a number of resources on our Conference Disaster Preparedness webpage. If you do not have a plan, or are not presently engaged in your community emergency response system, I urge you to review what is available. If I can assist you in any way with your planning and training, please do not hesitate to contact me at ORIDReady@outlook.com.

Blessings as we enter a New Year.

Dan Moseler
Conference Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator
More information about disaster preparedness

Dan Moseler
Dan Moseler is the Disaster Preparedness Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. Contact him if you have questions about how individuals and churches can prepare themselves for disaster, and be prepared to support others in need both locally and across the globe.