The recent disaster in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, has brought national attention to wildfires. Though significant progress has been made on containing this dangerous wildfire, it continues to threaten residents—and churches—in the state, and it’s not the only one.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center there are currently 7 states reporting a total of 15 large active fires that have already destroyed over 95,000 acres in the Southeast.
In the following, I share a few “just-in-time” tips for congregations threatened by an active wildfire but who still have time to carry out a few essential preparedness activities.
The window of time for being able to implement these recommendations is closing for a lot of communities and already passed for others. Sadly, for some, this article is too late as the damage has been done or flames are approaching too quickly to heed my advice. Don’t attempt these preparedness steps if they might put you and others at risk or go against evacuation notices or orders.
Still, it’s my hope that this disaster column may yet be helpful for those who have a window of opportunity.
1. Utilize Crisis Communication Strategies
Wildfires can disrupt the ways we communicate. Power sometimes goes out, and cell phone towers can go down. This can make most modern forms of staying in touch with one another difficult. You may have also seen messages coming out of Gatlinburg asking residents in the general area to limit calls for a period of time to emergency calls only.