Massive, devastating wildfires have become an unwelcome part of California autumns. And every Californian knows that the next big earthquake may be right around the corner. After another round of major fires this year, Californians have been having serious conversations at home and at work about how to prepare for disasters.
Churches often find themselves at interesting crossroads during disasters. Depending on the church’s size and location, it may be called upon to become a community hub during response and recovery efforts. It may wish to open its doors as a temporary shelter or collect food and household goods for people who have lost everything.
As a consequence, a church’s disaster planning must account for two things: the safety and preservation of church personnel and property, and how the church intends to serve its community during a crisis.
Every plan should begin with safety as the highest priority. Like any organization, a church needs to have a plan for prompt evacuations in the event of a fire. Churches that own their own buildings need regular inspections to ensure that earthquakes or high winds are not likely to create hazards. For churches that rent space or meet at irregular locations, having a consistent plan is still important.
The more complicated part of the plan comes into play for churches that make the decision to be available as community resources in the event of a disaster. For these churches, planning might involve factors like these:
- Pre-planning with local first responders. By planning around the needs and instructions of local first responders, a church can optimize its usefulness to its community while avoiding creating unexpected problems, like traffic congestion.
- Insurance. A church that will offer special services during a disaster may need specific insurance coverage to protect itself from financial risk.
- Financial reserves. Another side of disaster planning is the potential cost involved with keeping lights on and supplying resources during a disaster.
- Emergency stores. A church that wants to keep some supplies on-hand for an emergency should make sure to schedule a refresh of perishables as needed.
The Church Law Center of California is concerned about the impact fires and other disasters are having on our communities. If your church is having Call us today at (949) 689-0437 or reach out through our contact page.