Responding to Floods and Other Disasters

As the death toll rises to 18 in the aftermath of the flooding in Tennessee, the water is slowly starting to recede. Many residents are returning to their homes to find damaged possessions and property. Churches are also dealing with the repercussions of the flash flood; many have been forced to reconvene in alternative meeting areas.

The Your Church Blog has compiled a number of resources from our family of sites at Christianity Today International that are available to help affected churches. These resources also are useful for any churches in other parts of the country who are reminded of their needs to plan and prepare for a possible future disaster situation like this one.

Below is a free article from a download, "Serving as a Disaster Relief Team." This article provides simple, effective tips before a church begins to respond to an affected community. Following the article is a list of other resources that can help.

Simple Tips for Serving as a Disaster Relief Team

Improve your effectiveness by being prepared.

It's hard to comprehend the chaos left behind by a major catastrophe. Disaster relief teams often have to work in an environment where safe water, food, and electricity do not exist. Following are a few simple tips that will go a long way to ensuring that your disaster relief team is ready to tackle the hazards ahead.

Ahead of Time

• Buddy up. Always work through an organization that has experience with disaster relief, such as the American Red Cross or a denominational program. This prevents overlapping assistance, gets to people who might be missed, and increases efficiency.

• Be ready to ‘rough it.' Don't expect anyone to host you. This means taking your own water, food, and shelter. You may even need a generator for electrical power.

• Be safe, not sorry. Thoroughly train volunteers about safety measures they should follow in a disaster relief situation. This could include everything from using a chainsaw properly to purifying drinking water. The American Red Cross and many other relief organizations offer training courses for volunteers.

On the Scene

• Dress for success. You'll need sturdy work shoes—not sneakers—to avoid puncture wounds and twisted ankles when walking over debris. Take a couple of pairs of work gloves, plus disposable facemasks. Bandanas can serve as facemasks or as cooling headbands when dipped in water.

• Take the right tools. For floods, you'll need flat shovels, buckets, mops, and rags. After tornadoes or hurricanes, you'll need chain saws, rakes, and brooms. Following earthquakes you'll need shovels, crowbars, and picks. For all disasters, take a basic tool set with hammer, pliers, socket set, and screwdrivers. Also take an electrical tester and a fire extinguisher. If you have room, take a wheelbarrow or containers to carry debris.

• Identify yourself. Before leaving home, contact the organization with which you plan to work. Ask for a vehicle decal and personal identification that identifies you as a part of the relief effort. Often, only authorized personnel are allowed to enter disaster areas.

–Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company and

Additional Resources

- Free assessment: Is Our Church Ready for Any Emergency?

- Electronic training download: Preparing Your Church for Emergencies

- Electronic training download: Responding to a Crisis

- Electronic training download: Preaching in Crisis

- Electronic training download: Disaster and Emergency Readiness

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

Like This Article?

If you enjoyed reading this article, get more like it. Become a Church Law & Tax member today.

Learn more

Already a member? .

Recent Posts
Become a Church Law & Tax Member



Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.

The 4 Hour Legal Training Program for Church Boards

The 4 Hour Legal Training Program for Church Boards Member access only

Understand key legal concepts necessary to protect the board and the church.
Church Fundraising Campaigns

Church Fundraising Campaigns Member access only

Discover tips on raising and borrowing money.