By following some risk management guidelines, you can help minimize both the loss of physical property and human life when a hurricane hits. If you are not prepared, your church facility and the safety of your congregation could be at risk. Here are some action items you can implement to help prepare and protect your church.
Before a Hurricane
- Familiarize yourself with community hurricane evacuation routes and where to find higher ground.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you. Also determine if your land is flood-prone.
- Make plans to secure your property:
- Cover all windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. It is not recommended to use tape on windows.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
During a Hurricane
- Listen to the weather radio or TV for up-to-date information.
- Be aware you may be instructed to evacuate and/or turn off utilities.
- Ensure you have a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill large containers with water.
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
After a Hurricane
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you need to help congregants and members of the community find immediate housing, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345). Depending on how affected your facilities are by the storm, your church and congregation may also provide shelter and guidance to storm victims.
- If you have damage, contact your insurance agent immediately. If they cannot be reached, contact your insurance company directly. Many companies will have storm teams set up to handle the mass of claims.
- Take necessary action to protect your assets or to prevent additional damage, like putting a tarp on a damaged roof. Put together a list of the damaged items so nothing is overlooked.
We hope these simple tips will help you in the event a hurricane strikes your community. Some of the information in this article is taken from http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes. Visit this website for additional tips and information.
Image taken by NASA: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/8132037748/.