Churches play vital role in disaster relief

Churches play vital role in disaster relief
Nature Malone, American Red Cross Disaster Specialists
Nature Malone, American Red Cross Disaster Specialists

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is launching a new initiative called "Praise and Preparedness" to get more churches ready to respond to a disaster.

Beattie Road Church of Christ has a strong partnership with the American Red Cross and was vital during the Flood of 94. The goal of GEMA's Praise and Preparedness is to use faith communities for shelter and support when disaster strikes.

Beattie Road Church of Christ and Covenant Presbyterian Church are two churches in Dougherty County registered as official emergency shelters with the American Red Cross. They received free training and agree to provide volunteers when disaster strikes.

"We provide training in terms of how to open the shelter, how to manage the shelter and how to close the shelter," said Nature Malone, Disaster Specialists.

Beattie Road Church of Christ partnered with the Red Cross during the Flood of 94. Hundreds of people got food and shelter at the church.

"There was food in here, it was stacked up so high and we had a line that came through," said Richard Boyd, Beattie Road Church of Christ Blood Drive Coordinator.

The church cooked meals for their volunteers in their kitchen and the Red Cross provided beds to be placed in their classrooms.

'I think that there were at least 100 to maybe 125 that used the facility for sleeping," said Boyd.

GEMA's Praise and Preparedness program will build on partnerships like that by providing houses of worship with information, emergency plan templates and materials for disaster relief efforts. The Red Cross also partners with GEMA on another large scale emergency plan.

"It's called the 50-55 program," said Malone. "It means that we have the ability or we should have the ability to shelter 50,000 people, in 50 states for 5 days."

Boyd thinks GEMA's new initiative is a good idea.

"I do think it's a good thing and we don't know what tomorrow brings you know," said Boyd.

Malone says churches are a good community partners during times of disaster because they provide faith and emotional support.

"It's great to be with a faith based organization because they know how to reach out to the community," said Malone.

The Red Cross always welcomes churches to register as disaster services volunteers.

Beattie Road Church of Christ also holds blood drives every 8 weeks on Wednesdays for the Red Cross. If you're a church interested in being a shelter with the American Red Cross..find out how you can sign up by clicking here.

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