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Churches take lead in ‘6-4-1’ disaster preparedness project

Churches take lead in ‘6-4-1’ disaster preparedness project

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Churches take lead in ‘6-4-1’ disaster preparedness project

By Jenna De Marco | Oct. 19, 2009 {1093}

When disasters strike a community, residents often need clean-up supplies as soon as possible.

The Florida Conference’s new “6-4-1 Project” aims to meet that need faster by changing the way cleaning buckets are maintained and stored.

The goal is for hundreds of local churches to prepare six (6) cleaning buckets stocked with specific supplies and store them for (4) one (1) year.

Marilyn Swanson, director of the Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Ministry, hopes about 2,000 buckets will be prepared.

Cleaning buckets — formerly called flood buckets — are five-gallon buckets filled with supplies that help people begin cleaning up after hurricanes, floods and other disasters. Through the 6-4-1 Project, the buckets will be located throughout the conference, making them easier to distribute when a community is affected by disaster.

“It really positions the buckets closer to the disaster, and we can get them in the hands of the people who need them faster,” Swanson said.

Like people living in Lee and Pinetta in northwestern Florida. A total of 108 cleaning buckets were sent to the area in April when the Suwannee River and several smaller rivers flooded.

Churches participating in the project will purchase the re-sealable buckets and fill them with new, unused supplies, such as bleach, household cleaner, laundry detergent, sponges and latex gloves. The average cost to prepare the cleaning buckets is about $50.

“6-4-1 is a way that the local church can be involved in the disaster response and outreach into the local community,” Swanson said.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Tallahassee is ready to get started. Youth director Stephanie Chandler hopes the church will fill its six buckets by the end of the year.

A display at Sun City Center United Methodist Church shows the items included in the 6-4-1 cleaning buckets. Photo by Robert Fowler. Photo #09-1327.

The youth group will organize the project, Chandler said, but the entire church community will have an opportunity to help. The youth group will set up stations in the church’s fellowship hall where members can sign up to bring cleaning supplies and drop them off later.

“For Christmas, we’re asking the congregation to give the gift of relief,” Chandler said.

When the church missions committee, which provided money to purchase the buckets, asked the youth to help, Chandler said she was eager for them to be involved. She says it teaches them a tangible lesson about preparedness.

“I just thought it was a neat and easy project for (the youth) to do that is really significant for those of us living on the coast,” she said.

Since the buckets will be stored at local churches, Disaster Recovery is asking churches to inspect the supplies once a year to ensure they are fresh and free from leaks. This is especially important with bleach, Swanson said, because it must be stored properly and can lose its potency after several months. Unused supplies that are nearing their expiration dates should be replaced.

“We don’t want to give old supplies to people who are going through a disaster,” Swanson said.

And although disasters are “locally owned,” Swanson said, Disaster Recovery is prepared to transport the cleaning buckets longer distances if necessary.

“I don’t want to rule out that we will send out (cleaning) buckets beyond a district or state if they are needed,” she said.

The frequency and extent of future disasters will determine how rapidly the buckets will be used. In the event of a disaster, stored cleaning buckets will be collected in a central location near the disaster. Churches willing to serve as a collection site or wanting more information about the project are asked to contact Disaster Recovery at 800-282-8011, extension 149.

A complete list of cleaning bucket supplies is available at and

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.