Keys to Effective Disaster Relief

Spring and fall are times when weather patterns become unpredictable. Whether it’s tornadoes in the plains, fires in the west or flooding in the south, opportunities to lend a helping hand to your fellow man abound. When the day comes that images of wreckage and loss splash across the news and your heart is moved to help, don’t forget to pause, take a breath and look over these ten commandments of disaster relief.

Ten Commandments of Disaster Relief

  1. Thou shalt contact your local church, student organization and/or charitable organization and offer your help. Ask your church to set up a collection area for bottled water, shovels, plastic gloves and breathing masks. You may also ask for a special account to collect financial donations.
  2. Thou shalt not become a lone wolf. Working in cooperation with other relief agencies is the best way to provide positive change and avoid a disaster of your own.
  3. Thou shalt not ignore the advice of experts. Disaster conditions change. If you’re not listening to regular reports then you may find yourself in a terrible spot and in need of rescue.
  4. Thou shalt not forget to have an escape plan. Sure, you can get in, but can you get out? Have you factored in that restaurants, gas stations, ATM’s are not working?
  5. Thou shalt not drink any water in a disaster zone. Even tap water can be contaminated. Carry your own water in and have enough so share.
  6. Thou shalt not walk or drive through flowing water. Most deaths in floods occur when people enter flowing water. It’s a bad idea, don’t do it.
  7. Thou shalt not donate clothes. Sounds counter intuitive but relief agencies get loaded down with unclaimed clothes and wind up throwing most of it away. Most groups post a needs list and your gift will be more useful if you stick to it.
  8. Thou shalt donate to legitimate charities. Every disaster has looters and scammers. You can look up legit charities with the Better Business Bureau, United Way, etc.
  9. Thou shalt continue to help long term. The need for recovery resources continue long after the media’s coverage has ended. Look for ways to continue to help others in need.
  10. Thou shalt pray for everyone. Pray for the victims, volunteers, extended family, government officials, and anyone else you can think of.

5 Things All Louisiana Residents Simply Must Do

We don’t like to think about the fact that a hurricane might be on the radar in the next couple of months. The majority of the storms we experience in Louisiana have landed in August and September. Thus, we need to understand that the heart of the storm season is before us so we must act now  to be prepared. Here are some suggestions:

1. Put together an emergency supply kit that includes items like water and non-perishable foods, flashlights with batteries and first-aid supplies. Usually figure one gallon of water per person per day. Up to three days supply is a rule of thumb to figure the amount of supplies needed.

2. Secure any outdoor objects that could blow away during a storm. Secure your windows and doors. Storm Shutters are a great idea. Also consider trimming your trees and inspecting your roof.

3. Protect your computers, TVs and other electronic equipment with surge protectors. It’s also a good choice to back all of your valueable computer data on a cloud service such as Dropbox, I-Cloud, Google Drive or OneDrive

4. Preplan a safe place to go if evacuation is required.  Be sure to notify your family so they know where you will be.

5. And finally… Let’s pray before a hurricane or a flood is immanent. Pray for Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief workers to be available to serve. Pray for protection and opportunities. God works in times of disaster. Let’s pray that even in the midst of disaster, people will come to know Jesus as their Savior. By the way, maybe God is calling you to serve by attending a training event in your area. Pray for our first responders as well.

Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief will respond when needed.  We work with other agencies to provide assistance.

Operation Homecoming

Imagine shepherds living out in the fields. It’s not just a Christmas phrase. We have spiritual shepherds who have struggled through the heartbreaking floods of the past year. About 50 pastors are still displaced. No, they aren’t homeless, but they are trying to return and reset in their own homes. As an association of Louisiana Baptists churches, we believe that this is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these committed servants.

This is a call for churches to partner with displaced pastors to help them get back in their homes as soon as possible. We are encouraging interested churches to contact the following for assignments:

 

Operation Homecoming will be promoted at LBC Annual Meeting, November 14-15 and also on Monday afternoon, November 14 at the Pastor’s Conference.

Basic Mud-Out Guide for Home Owners

The removal of wet debris from a flooded home is called mud-out because everything flooded is saturated with muddy water. The objective is to get the house cleared of all wet debris to discourage the growth of mold and to allow the structure to dry out as quickly as possible so reconstruction can begin. The following sequence of actions is suggested for your consideration:

  1. Look for hazards such as broken gas lines, structural damage and damaged electric systems. Other potential hazards may include contamination by chemical spills and overflowing of sewage systems.   Watch for snakes and insects that may be found in unexpected places.
  2. Be aware of personal health and physical limitations. People with respiratory or heart problems should approach mud-out work with great caution. Furthermore, flood conditions bring increased risk of tetanus and hepatitis. Wear protective clothing such as boots, coveralls, hardhat, gloves and facemask. A fiber face respirator with N-95 rating is normally adequate for dust and molds, but not for gas or chemical fumes.
  3. Open all doors and windows and use fans to help circulate air through the house. Try to prevent any additional damage to the home. If the roof has suffered damage, temporary plastic roof covering may be needed. Remember, the home can normally be restored to its previous or better condition.
  4. Prevent health hazards by removing perishable foods and any chemicals or medicine to safe areas where animals or children will not get to it.
  5. If the flood water was high enough to get the walls and insulation wet:
    1. Remove all damaged furniture and wet debris from the house. Separate it on the curb by type, as appliances, furniture, food, chemicals and dry wall (sheetrock).  Put insulation and miscellaneous items in plastic bags. Please be aware that many of your things can be saved if properly cleaned and restored.
    2. Remove the carpets and pads. These can be cut into manageable pieces with a box knife for safe removal. Some carpet cleaning companies can clean and restore carpets but the wet carpet pad has to be replaced.
    3. Remove the baseboard, window and door trim where the dry wall and insulation is wet and must be taken out. Drill 1” holes in the bottom of the wall between each stud to get air circulation.
    4. The dry wall and insulation should normally be removed about one foot above the high water level. Moisture Meters can be used to check the condition of the dry wall and insulation.
    5. Remove any wet items from fixtures or cabinets. Open all doors to cabinets. If the water level was only several inches, drill a 1” hole in the bottom of each cabinet so an air flow can me maintained. Leave permanent fixtures and cabinets for repair or removal by professional craftsmen. Dry wall and insulation behind or on the opposite wall of a fixture should be removed to allow the dry wall behind the fixture to dry.
    6. If the flood water only reached the floor level but did not get the dry-wall and insulation wet you may only need to roll the carpet and remove the carpet pad, as some carpet cleaners can clean and dry the carpet and replace the pad. Adequate ventilation will be needed to remove excessive moisture. See sub-item 3.
  6. When an area is drying, do not rewet it with a hose or power washer. Let the area dry out and then sweep up the remaining debris. Spray with a fungicide such as Shockwave. If it is not available, a mixture of one half cup of bleach per one gallon of water may be applied where the site is still wet and mold is growing, this may not affect black mold.
  7. Allow the house to dry out for several weeks before putting in new dry wall and insulation. The time required for adequate drying will depend on temperature, humidity and how well ventilated the structure is.