Six members of the Diocese of Southern Ohio recently traveled to Sewanee, TN to attend a two or three day seminar on disaster recovery. There were several important things that we learned that have a direct impact on us, as members of the diocese.

There are many areas within the diocese that are potential areas of natural and manmade disasters. It is better to be prepared than to have to scramble in a disaster to collect the needed items and contact the appropriate resources.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”mission-pullq-right”]During these times of increased climate fluctuation and world unrest, we, as individuals and congregations would be wise to be prepared. We cannot serve our world in chaos without first planning, preparing and praying.[/su_pullquote]

Most people don’t realize that the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) must have at least 72 hours to respond to a disaster. That means that we all (both individuals and churches) need to be prepared with enough supplies to get through at least those three days.

You cannot take care of your church during a disaster unless YOU are prepared for the disaster!

Are you ready?

Just as a disaster preparedness plan is essential for organizations, it is just also crucial for families and individuals. Every member of the family should know what must be done and their individual responsibilities in case of a disaster. Each member of a family unit should know:

  • Telephone numbers (cell and landlines) of someone outside the disaster area
  • Telephone numbers of family members
  • How to text
  • Agreed upon meeting place if separated
  • Telephone numbers of all members of the family unit (laminated card is a good way to keep this information)
  • Local individual in responsibilities as defined in a disaster plan
  • Where the emergency supplies are located and who is responsible for obtaining them

FEMA and the Red Cross have identified the following supplies needed for each man, woman and child for the first three days:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]1 gallon of water

Non-breakable water pouch

9 MRE (meals ready to eat) for each person

9 MRE side dishes

9 MRE heater packets

High calorie food bars

9 sets of disposable utensils

Hard candy

Disposable toothbrush, toothpaste

1 bar soap

1 package of tissue

Disposable razor

Hairbrush and comb

Dry shampoo

1 roll toilet paper

Feminine sanitary supplies

Body lotion[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Alcohol-free hand sanitizer


Hand warmers

Mylar emergency blanket

Change of clothes

Extra pair of sturdy shoes

Prescription medicine

1 box waterproof matches

Whistle on lanyard

100-hr candle


List of contact numbers

Extra set of house and car keys

Special items for infants, elderly, disabled

journal and pencils

Family information (birthdate, unique identification marks, serial numbers of medical devices)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]First Aid Kit

1 large backpack

Battery-powered radio or NOA weather radio

Phone charger

Flashlight and extra batteries

Duct tape

Credit card and cash

Glasses and sunglasses


Additional items for clergy may include:

Priest or Deacon Stole

Bible/Book of Common Prayer

Stocked Communion Kit

Holy water

Anointing/Chrism oil

Book of prayers

Dickie collar[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text](MREs are available at sporting goods store, army/navy surplus and some box stores. If buying dehydrated food include additional water to rehydrate.)

Additional information can be found at:



Contingency planning for your church

Several years ago each congregation was requested by the diocese to develop a disaster contingency plan in case of natural or man-made disasters. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) offer training in disaster planning and disaster recovery. There are currently four trained disaster chaplains in our diocese.

There are several good sources for information of what should be in the church’s plan, but here are some items to be considered:

Contact Lists (name, email, home and cell phone)

  • Contact list of public services (police, fire, city officials, utilities)
  • Contact list for insurance agencies, local emergency services and Red Cross
  • Contact list for diocesan Disaster Relief Coordinator (Chris Kelsen)
  • Contact list for trained disaster chaplains (the Revs. Leslie Fleming, Eric Miller, Deniray Mueller and Judy Wiley)
  • Contact list of key parish personnel (clergy, wardens, sextons)
  • Contact list of ecumenical/interreligious partners in area
  • Contact list of parish disaster leadership team

Parish Operations

  • Backup of computer systems
  • Offsite storage of critical records (property assets, insurance policies, financial records)
  • Updated list of parish members
  • Potential temporary site of operations
  • Alternative worship space
  • Temporary use of office space
  • Access to banking services
  • Relocation of nursery, pre-school facilities


  • If operating a feeding program, where will these people receive food?
  • Substitute facility for regular worship services (another church, school, store front)
  • Contact lists for prayer circles/chains
  • Contact list of community volunteer organizations (Habitat for Humanity, service corps)

Long-term Needs

  • Oversight of reclamation of building
  • Payment of salaries, insurance (if not able to continue services)
  • Recovering structural facilities
  • Certification of occupancy after recovery

Episcopal Relief & Development has a program that assists congregations in developing a disaster contingency plans as well as seminars on disaster preparedness and recovery. Resources can be found at www.episcopalrelief.org/resourcelibrary. Ohio VOAD resources can be found at www.ohvoad.communityos.org.

During these times of increased climate fluctuation and world unrest, we, as individuals and congregations would be wise to be prepared. We cannot serve our world in chaos without first planning, preparing and praying.


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The Rev. Deniray Mueller serves as the legislative liaison for the Diocese of Southern Ohio and is a trained disaster chaplain. Contact her at deniray@deniray.com.