Lessons We Are Learning During Hurricane Season—It is Important to Prepare Now!
International Health Commission of the AME Church
Bishop Harry Seawright, Commission Chair
Rev. Natalie Mitchem, M.Div. RDN, Executive Director
Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnett, M.D., M.Div., Medical Director
James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
It is important to prepare for disasters and emergencies now. In just a few months, we have experienced hurricanes; a major earthquake in Mexico; and fires in California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Winter storms are just around the corner for many locations. The question remains, “Is your church, home, daycare, senior center, and family prepared for an emergency and natural disaster?”
The International Health Commission of the AME Church is a partner of FEMA and the Office of Homeland Security Faith-Based and Neighborhoods. As a partner, the International Health Commission participates in regular updates and conference calls with FEMA on numerous issues including disaster preparedness; resources available before, during, and after disasters; safety; security; active shooter; and other topics that impact faith-based communities and neighborhoods. The Health Commission is an active liaison for the AME Church to assist in facilitating conference calls and timely distribution of vital information and resources before, during, and after a disaster.
We are learning important and life-saving information during conference calls and updates with FEMA. The most important life-saving information is that it is imperative that every person, home, church, and district have a disaster plan, evacuation plan/route, disaster funds, and emergency supplies in place before the news announces bad weather. FEMA, Red Cross, VOAD, fire departments, police, National Guard, EMTs, and Citizens Corps are wonderful partners and resources and they are prepared to respond to all emergencies. However, the process of assisting people during and after a disaster could be a little less overwhelming and tasking to limited resources and these organizations if everyone prepared for a disaster in advance.
FEMA offers a free guide for disaster preparedness, active shooter, and intruder in the building. The Health Commission offers a disaster plan, tracks storms, and provides FEMA updates and resources online at www.AMEChealth.org. The website also offers a store with emergency 25-year storage food kits, solar powered generators (no gas/no fumes), solar panels, water filters, first aid kits, and more. The last important lesson is to gather your family and church and let’s put our “Faith in Action” by preparing for disasters.