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Churches can respond by preparing for next big storm

Churches can respond by preparing for next big storm

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Churches can respond by preparing for next big storm

Feb. 6, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0618}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — Marilyn Swanson says churches wanting to help with tornado relief efforts can add one very important item to their list: have their own disaster plan ready for the next storm.

Swanson is project director for the Florida Conference’s storm recovery ministry. She said this latest storm experience is an opportunity to remind churches that, regardless of their location, disaster preparation and planning is important.

“Some churches don’t think they need a plan,” she said. “These storms, as bad as they were, are an opportunity for all our churches to realize that any place is potentially a place for disaster to strike, not just along coastal areas.”

Every church should have a disaster preparedness and response plan, she said, but only a handful in the conference have submitted one to their district disaster coordinator. Swanson said the resources are there to help Florida Conference churches prepare their plan. Disaster preparedness training is available, and the Local Church Disaster Planning Manual is online at under the Local Church Disaster Plan link at the bottom of the page. Churches can also contact the Florida Conference Storm Recovery Center at 800-282-8011, extension 149, or e-mail for more information.

Roofs torn off, walls blown out, belongings strewn across the lawn. It was a familiar sight in a number of neighborhoods throughout Central Florida after a severe weather system moved across the state early Feb. 2, spawning at least one tornado and high winds. Twenty people died in the storm, which also damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. Photo by the Rev. Ivan Corbin. Photo #07-0516.

The tornadoes that crossed Central Florida early Feb. 2 caused widespread damage and the deaths of 20 people. President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Charlie Crist declared Lake, Volusia, Sumter and Seminole counties disaster areas. No churches or parsonages in the conference sustained major damage, according to Swanson, and all pastors, staff and their families have been accounted for and are reportedly all right. An e-mail sent from storm recovery staff Feb. 5 to every conference church outlined ways churches can offer assistance.

“Every church can be a part of the response effort following these tornadoes,” said Swanson, noting the need for health kits, baby diapers and, eventually, work teams. “One important way for a church to respond to these storms is to take the time now to make sure you’re ready for the next one.”

Churches may also respond to the disaster by giving to Florida Conference Advance #605, “Florida Tornadoes.” Checks should include “Advance #605” in the memo line and may be given at local United Methodist churches, made payable to the church, or mailed to Florida Conference Treasurer, c/o Florida Annual Conference, P.O. Box 850001, Orlando, FL 32885-0207, and made payable to Florida Conference Treasurer. (The e-mail sent to churches Feb. 5 and articles posted to the e-Review Web site initially said to send checks to Florida Conference, P.O. Box 3767, Lakeland, FL 33802. Churches should disregard that instruction and send checks to the Orlando address listed above.)


This article relates to Florida Conference Storm Recovery.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.