It is difficult to turn on the news and not see a report of some natural disaster or unexpected emergency.
Preparing for a disaster is one of those things that is difficult to put at the top of the list of all the competing priorities that a church has. A disaster could be a natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake) an act of terrorism (think September 11) or an armed intruder (think Columbine). Each of these examples has its own unique set of challenges but they all share the same need – plan and prepare for the unexpected. Natural disasters and attacks on places of worship in recent years make this kind of planning essential. A church emergency preparedness plan is a written document that answers the questions of who, what, where, when and how to get your ministry back up and running following an emergency or disaster. Thinking through all the details of the what ifs in any given scenario helps to create the content for an emergency preparedness manual. For example, what if a tornado hit the church building or what if an armed intruder interrupted a church service or what if the church were flooded? Planning for an emergency or disaster requires a representative team of your senior leadership, facilities management, information technology and telephone systems. This team is charged with thinking through all given scenarios and determining the best course of action in each situation.
An emergency preparedness manual can be as detailed as is comfortable or as simple as mapping out some logistical first steps. For example, identifying where a command center would be located ahead of time saves valuable hours or even days trying to locate a gathering place. Church leaders need to imagine their ministry running without a functioning facility, computer system, communication system or even employee support for days, weeks or even months.
Disasters and emergencies typically have three phases – first response, clean-up and recovery. Ensuring the safety and security of the church facilities and providing help to possible victims is the first response phase.
This phase also requires responding to any media questions and having a prepared spokesperson to represent the organization. The clean-up phase may include clearing debris, cleaning the facility and preparing the building employees, volunteers or congregants to return.

Depending on the type of disaster or emergency, having a plan for clean-up is essential to a normal return of church operations. If the damage is extensive, the third and final recovery phase is rebuilding or repairing damage to the facility to get it back in order and ready for the public. If the recovery will be longer term, it is important to identify a location to temporarily have church services as well as a command center where a team can facilitate the recovery process.
An emergency preparedness box should be kept in a separate location and should have contents to help get the church back up and running if the church building cannot be occupied. Once the box is created, it is recommend to update it every six months or so to make sure contents are current. It is becoming more and more common for organizations to hold what is referred to as disaster drills to test their plans and try to identify holes that need to be improved.
I have worked with teams who have tested their plan by going through a drill and I cannot emphasize how much is learned and what a valuable experience it is. Lastly, emergencies and disasters are unpredictable at best but investing the time and doing a little planning ahead of time can minimize the chaos of an emergency situation and turn it into a smooth running response process. Watch this incredible video from a church security camera as a tornado blew through its playground this spring.
Do you have a template of a preparedness manual that I could use to help build one for my church? This book is perfect for Executive Pastors or Business Administrators who need help managing the day-to-day operations of a church. This newly released book offers 45 sample church Job descriptions to help guide employee performance and dictate daily activities.
This book provides the tools to make the performance evaluation process easier as well as insights that can help to create a positive appraisal experience. SCM is dedicated to Church Management and Nonprofit Training by offering consulting services, online courses, and helpful articles to help churches and nonprofit organizations better manage the resources God has provided: people, time, and money. T&M provides municipal, county, state, federal, institutional and commercial clients with the full range of storm and disaster solutions, from preparedness planning and resiliency implementation to funding, response, recovery and rebuilding support. Sadie Bynum was appointed Director of Emergency Preparedness for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in June 2014. However, being prepared can save a church precious time when moments count and can lay the groundwork for a quick response to an emergency or disaster.

However, most disasters or emergencies don’t allow enough time to come up with a response plan.
This type of planning can also help the church be ready to respond and be back up and running quickly so it can continue to care for its congregation and support those affected by the disaster. The team then takes the information and organizes it into a book that can be used as a resource in the event of an emergency or disaster.
The more detailed the plan becomes, the less thinking will need to be done during an emergency when there is typically a lot of chaos and many logistical challenges that need to be addressed.
Once an emergency plan is in place, it should be tested by going through a fictitious what if scenario. With decades of experience responding to the specific storm-related challenges faced by our many municipal clients and our work helping to rebuild more than 30 communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy, our professionals are adept at developing effective emergency preparedness and disaster response strategies that you can count on. Bynum served as an Emergency Preparedness Manager for the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM), where she coordinated with City agencies to evaluate the scope and impact of threats to public health and safety, and provided support for incidents that required a multi-agency response within the five boroughs. Bynum holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a major in African American Studies from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Emergency Management from Jacksonville State University. We back these strategies with a tailored, consultative approach toward implementing sound and proven mitigation measures to reduce your vulnerabilities to future disasters. Prior to that, she was the Operations Coordinator with Lee County Emergency Management, where she oversaw public safety training and exercises, served on the Long Term Recovery Committee, and administered the Citizen Corps grant program. Bynum has been trained in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) methodology and locally certified as an Incident Commander and Operations Section Chief in Florida, and as a Public Information Officer in Georgia. Bynum provides leadership and guidance for the revision, development, implementation and maintenance of NYCHA’s emergency response strategies and plans.
Bynum served as Public Safety Advisor to the DeKalb County Georgia Chief Executive Officer on law enforcement, emergency management, and homeland security matters including the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) grant programs, and was a sworn certified Georgia Peace (Police) Officer and public information officer.

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