When a disaster strikes and we see the devastating effects on the media, we are all moved to help. How and when we help though can make a real difference. Below are 10 things we can all do to help in the face of a disaster.
1) Please stay away from affected or risky areas. If you want to know how to help, make the connections from a safe area – don’t drive into affected areas. We don’t want more people in harms way.
If you are living in an area that is at risk please be aware of local alerts and evacuate when and to where is suggested by authorities. Check below sites for updated evacuation information:
2) If you are concerned about congregation members contact first of all your senior Pastor – they will be in contact their Regional and State Exec Pastors to get a bigger picture of what is happening across the state.
Offer to contact people you know who may be in affected areas – especially the elderly/disabled or vulnerable.
If phones are down try facebook or email to contact them.
Please don’t drive in yourself to find them.
3) Pray – start a prayer meeting, gather some friends together and hold up in prayer those that are being affected and those that are trying to assist.
4) Keep an eye on media to keep up to date:
Below are NSW fire relevant links – other can be found for each differing state and disaster. These are standard websites and Apps you can use, but please be aware that new sites will emerge for each specific disaster so you want to be aware of the current needs.
Website to check:
Apps you can use:
Fires Near Me NSW
5) Take up an offering in your church/local community/ run a sausage sizzle etc
Donated dollars are usually the best way to help. Funds raised can get directly and quickly to exactly where assistance is needed. ACCIR are constantly in contact with local Pastors who know who has been affected and what the current needs are.
Check out www.accir.og.au to donate.
6) Do you have any large items like a caravan that you might like to donate or lend during a disaster period. These can be used to house those that have been affected as temporary accommodation.
Are you near the affected areas and have a tractor or farming equipment you are able to donate or lend? If you have something please contact your local pastor who will pas the information along to the appropriate people.
7) Timing is everything – even the best gifts can be given at the wrong time. Don’t start your own ‘assistance plan’ check what is already being done in the community and work in with these agencies. People will often start collecting items/old clothes/food etc but there will be an official agency (such as the Salvation Army) assigned by authorities to already do that, and they will know specifically what items are needed and most importantly when and where they are needed.
We have seen in previous disaster churches having to dump tones of unwanted donated items as they weren’t needed or weren’t appropriate.
We have also seen excellent items donated too early, or too late, that were then wasted – white goods that were donated but people had no house to put them in yet etc.
NSW has set up a Disaster Welfare Assistance Line 1800 018 444 for those interested in donating, or once again please contact your local Pastor if you wish to donate.
8) There is a possibility you can be part of a clean up team, if needed and when the time is right. This may be helping farmers with fencing to keep their stock contained, removing rubble from burnt homes etc. This will most likely be coordinated through the local SES/Evacuation Centre, or the local ACC church in affected areas. Please keep in contact with your Pastor, keep an eye on official website updates to see what is the most appropriate time to assist. Community Recovery Centers – will also be established once the initial emergency has settled down that may require volunteers, supplies and assistance. If you are involved in clean up activities please remember to be sensitive to the people who have lost their homes.
9) Long term assistance.
When a disaster strikes the media tells us the stories and our nightly news is saturated with images and information. This results in a flurry of offers of assistance and donated items – which is great. However we find once the media slows down its publications and stories, donations and assistance also slows – however those is need are still there and still require assistance.
As a church being willing and available to help for the long term, can be an incredible gift. After a few weeks many people have gone home and evacuation centers close, donations stop coming in and many affected people feel forgotten. This is a great opportunity for you and your church to provide ongoing assistance after the immediate emergency phase has passed. Please consider offering assistance in the months that are to come. Many people wont know if they can get insurance for a few weeks, government grants and financial assistance isn’t always publicized straight away. Sometimes by waiting you can have greater impact into the long term recovery of a community.
10) ACC has a National Disaster Response Plan in place for disaster that occur in Australia. We have a structured approach for information and communication.
Check out the ACCIR links to see how you can help affected communities: