Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) is partnering with religious leaders in a new program called Praise & Preparedness. The program was launched as part of National Preparedness Month.
The program encourages religious leaders to inform their congregations and communities about safety procedures in times of natural or man-made disasters. GEMA has made emergency plan templates, emergency supply checklists, flyers and more available for free online for leaders to download and use to create unique plans for their organizations. GEMA also encourages congregations to enlist in their Preparedness Partnership Program. To be in the program the congregations have to complete tasks that ensure facility safety, community involvement, and congregation preparedness.
It’s made up of three components: Facility Safety, Congregation Safety, and Community Involvement. Facility safety focuses on updating facilities and creating an emergency plan for congregation buildings, Congregation Safety’s focus is on encouraging congregation members to create emergency plans and make kits for preparedness in their own homes, and Community Involvement encourages congregation s to get out and get involved in disaster relief, feeding and sheltering programs in their communities.
GEMA’s director Charley English says religious communities were picked to spread the word because in his words,“When disasters strike, many of us turn to our faith communities for shelter and support Praise & Preparedness will equip houses of worship to prepare themselves for disasters and help the members of their congregations get ready.”
Jackson County EMA Director Steve Nichols echoes this idea saying it’s a good way to reach the community.”It’s an easy way to reach a large number of people, you’re reaching a group of people that’s already community oriented,” he said.
GEMA Coordinator Janay Stargell says there’s no cost to the state taxpayers or community leaders for this program. Stargell also says that some of the main challenges to the program is congregations waiting to complete facility improvements before joining the program and getting congregations to contact their local Emergency Management officials (police, fire, etc.) to promote preparedness in congregations through other programs.
GEMA also works with Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster which includes Safe Space and other NGOs to go out and provide trainings to congregations for the services they provide.
Praise and Preparedness was launched in lieu of church disturbances that have led Jackson County Sherrif Janis Magnum to host an independent training program for religious leaders next Thursday.
All of the information that leaders need to make their own safety plans is available for free online at praise.ga.gov.
Does training your religious leaders make you feel safer? Tell us what you think about Praise & Preparedness on this poll:
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