Important Information from Bishops for Churches Preparing for Hurricane Florence

 

 

September 12, 2018

As Hurricane Florence approaches and makes landfall, bringing wind and rain, let us hold close in prayer: 

  • Those who live in areas of mandatory evacuation
  • Those for whom a loss of electricity is life-threatening, and not merely inconvenient
  • Those who are most vulnerable, particularly the poor
  • Those who suffer loss of property, of health, of income or of life during the storm
  • First responders and emergency workers
  • All who in coming weeks will open their hearts in generosity toward those who suffer loss

God our creator, in the beginning your Spirit moved over the face of the waters; the wind blew, and the waves of the ocean were stirred. We ask you now to calm the wind and waves of Hurricane Florence, as Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Enable those in the path of the storm to reach safety, and spare them from all harm. Strengthen emergency workers and stay with them as they respond in threatening situations. Give courage and hope to those who are most vulnerable, especially the poor who have few resources, the elderly and infirm, and all who are alone. Fulfill your promise and be with us when we pass through the waters, so that they will not overwhelm us. All this we ask in the Name of the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With the pending arrival of Hurricane Florence this week, many of us have been diligently preparing our parishes, homes, and families for potential catastrophic impacts related to excessive rainfall and corresponding flooding, including flash floods, extended power outages, and high winds. Your diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Response Team is ready to support any of our congregations adversely impacted by this serious storm. 

To that end, here are a few reminders as preparations continue:

1.       Update your plan to make sure everyone in the congregation is accounted for after the storm by checking phone numbers and email addresses. Specifically account for those people with functional and access needs, people confined to their homes, and people in need of refrigerated medications.

2.       Stay apprised of conditions in your area by visiting the National Hurricane Center. Determine local shelter options (typically organized by local government) and publicize the information.

3.      If your church can serve as a community shelter or provide food, volunteers, or other specialized items, contact your local emergency operations center (EOC) so they can call on you in any time of need.

4.      Practice welcoming hospitality. If there are widespread power outages but your facility is unaffected or has generator power, open to the public for electronic device recharging, as a cooling center, refreshment center, or simple gathering place for people without power.

5.      Mobilize parishioners with pick-up trucks or 4-wheel-drive vehicles and those with chain saws for tree and debris removal in the surrounding area.

6.      Consider stockpiling bottled water and pre-packaged snacks to make available for distribution to the church's immediate neighbors and community.

 

In the Event of Damage or Impact 

1. Report it to your Dean and Bishop

If there is property damage or significant impacts on the congregation, please remember to include Bishop Shannon in your communications at sjohnston@thediocese.net and to also alert the Dean of your Region. Especially helpful to report would be the need, or desire, for recovery resources beyond a congregation's capacity to handle.

2. Report a claim for property damage 

To report a claim for property damage, please call the Church Insurance Company at 1-800-223-5705 and be sure to contact Ted Smith at tsmith@thediocese.net as well. Since we are now in hurricane season and more storms are sure to threaten, please see the attached information offered by the Church Insurance Company to ensure that your disaster preparedness plans are as comprehensive as possible.

 

In all of these things, it is important to remember that we are the Church and so we have unique opportunities and responsibilities for ministry in times such as these. Government and other secular response and relief efforts certainly have their place, but we are always a resource that has something that only the Church can offer. Ultimately, then, much of this is a matter of discernment about the ministries you feel called to provide. Our prayers are with you as you seek to find your place with people who are in any need or distress.

 

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston

XIII Bishop of Virginia

 

The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Goff

Bishop Suffragan

 

The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ihloff

Bishop Associate