Providing Help After a Disaster

Five years ago today, a massive line of tornadoes struck Alabama. I can still remember clearly the images of devastation that I saw as I worked alongside hundreds of volunteers to provide relief to the people of Alabama.

Below is a post that I wrote just days after the storm. It reminds me that we need to be ready. Even though the sun is shining today, the storms are coming. The storms may be physical like the one we experienced 5 years ago, or it may be emotional, like grieving over the death of a family member.

The question is this... Will you be prepared when they arrive?

Question: Do you remember where you were when the tornadoes arrived on April 27th? Leave a comment below and share your experience. You can leave a comment by clicking here

Original Post from May 19, 2011

The tornadoes on April 27th, 2011 were considered a Level 1 - Catastrophic Disaster for our country. Nationwide there have only been two other Level 1 - Catastrophic Disasters in the last 9 years... Katrina and 9/11

This has truly raised the question for me personally and for many others... how can we best provide help in the midst of disaster?
A Tornado Ravaged Neighborhood

As Great Commission Christians, we should be prepared to respond to disasters with Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual help. Here are some ideas to consider as you provide Disaster Relief to those in need.

  1. Those responding to Disaster Relief should have adequate training ahead of time. For the response that our church recently provided, we did not have sufficient time to send all our responders to training classes. However, we did provide training through documents sent ahead of time to each responder via e-mail. We also had a brief training session before sending each team out. While we did not provide an exhaustive training during this time, we provided sufficient training to ensure safety during the work.

  2. As you are responding to the physical need around you, also look for emotional and spiritual needs. As Christians, responding to a disaster can provide an opportunity to bring emotional and spiritual health to those who are hurting. Responders should be trained in how to ask appropriate questions of victims to allow them the opportunity to tell their disaster story.

  3. Responders may also need emotional help following disaster relief. Following a disaster response, volunteer and trained responders alike may need to discuss and debrief their experiences. Formal counseling may become necessary for those who have had significantly traumatic experiences. At a very least, chaplains and ministers should be prepared to debrief mission teams to allow them the opportunity to share their experiences and encourage them to continue sharing their stories.
Disaster Relief can be one of the most rewarding opportunities for those who are willing to give of themselves and become servants to those who are responding. For some, it might mean picking up a chainsaw to clear roads or yards of debris. For others it might mean simply going to a community to provide water and snacks to workers.

Thank you to all who have come to help provide Tornado Relief to those who are hurting and grieving in Alabama. Let's continue to share Christ as we bring physical, emotional and spiritual relief to those in need.

Question: Do you remember where you were when the tornadoes arrived on April 27th? Leave a comment below and share your experience.