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Map of the path of Hurricane Irma We are aware that today hurricane Irma has been listed as a powerful Category 5 storm and we are praying for everyone in her path. This hurricane is still far out and its exact path is not fully known. But what we do know is that it is essential for all of us to be as prepared as possible. In light of the desire to be prepared here are some things to consider:
  1. Know your evacuation routes and plan for a place of safe shelter inland for you and your family. Be sure to tend to the safety of your family.
  2. As you are able in these days leading up to the storm's landfall, activate a "phone tree" or some other means for checking on the members of your church community to assess needs for assistance during and following the storm.
  3. We are asking clergy to keep in touch with our office, as you are able, with feedback on how you, your family and your congregation are doing. It would help to have some kind of check in either by email or on Facebook from each leader/congregation letting us know your status, and your assessment of your church and area. Check in by email at jlewis@dioceseofsc.org or by text at 843-424-7387 and we will all get the update.
  4. Let us know if your worship schedule has changed and we will post a listing on our website and our Facebook page.
  5. For those of you located more inland it would be helpful to know if your congregation has capacity/willingness to help with emergency housing for a couple of days, and if so, what kind of accommodations do you have and how many people can you accommodate?
  6. Take any precautionary measures you can to prevent property damage. Download our disaster preparation response guidelines and visit our hurricane preparedness page for additional suggestions on how to do this. While many cannot be implemented immediately, there are tips to keep in mind for Irma’s approach.
  7. Those churches insured through the Diocesan plan may contact Kinghorn Insurance should a claim need to be filed or if there are any questions. Additionally, a hurricane checklist is provided by Kinghorn here to assist you.
  8. In the immediate aftermath of a storm people get restless and want to do "anything to help." Please keep in mind that it is not always helpful to jump in when officials are still assessing the safety of the area. Recovery takes a long time. Please exercise patience. But also let us know if your congregation has the capacity to be a collection and/or distribution center for water and food. You may also want to begin to identify volunteers who are ready to stand-by and offer clean up assistance with mucking out, etc.
  9. Below we have information from Gov. Henry McMaster and from Mark Sanford's office with links for government assistance in times of emergencies.

 
Gov. Henry McMaster has declared a "state of emergency" as Irma looms. This is a violent and large storm. Please pay attention to all notices.
 
Representative Mark Sanford issued this statement with many ways to contact services that are available.
 

Plan an evacuation route

  • Know where to go.
  • If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. If emergency management officials tell you to leave town because of a hurricane threat, you should leave.
  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter and ask for the community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters. Learn safe routes inland. Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place.
  • If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan to obtain adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.

Put together a go-bag

  • Your disaster supply kit should include a flashlight; a portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries; cash and credit cards; sturdy shoes; a first aid kit and manual; emergency food and water; a non-electric can opener; medications; and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate.
  • Make arrangements for pets. Pets might not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons. Contact your local animal protection/rescue group for information on local animal shelters in areas you might be staying.
  • Teach family members what to do
  • Make sure all family members know how to respond before, during and after a hurricane. Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water. Teach children how and when to call 911, police or firefighters, and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan. Many communities have text or email alert systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search online using your town, city or county name and the word "alerts."
  • In case family members are separated during a disaster - a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school - have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address and phone number of the "family contact."

Protect your windows

  • Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2-inch plywood - marine plywood is best - cut to fit each window. Mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm. Trim dead or weak branches from trees to reduce the risk of their falling on your home.

Check into flood insurance

  • Homeowners' policies do not cover damage from flooding that accompanies a hurricane. Contact your insurance agent or local emergency management office for information on the National Flood Insurance Program. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective.

Prepare your church

  • Create a video inventory of your church buildings, room by room. Perhaps a young person could take ownership of this task.
 


A Message from Archbishop Beach Regarding Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

I
n his letter Archbishop Foley Beach gives an update on Hurricane Harvey relief, asks for prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Irma and provides a way for those who would like to donate financially or send a work team for hurricane relief.  Read the letter.
 

As always, we are thankful for the partnership we share in the gospel with each of you and we are praying for everyone's safety in the midst of this storm. May you feel the assurance of our Lord who comes to us and promises us to be with us in the midst of any storm.

  
In Christ's service,

Canon Jim Lewis' signature
 
 
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
The Diocese of South Carolina
126 Coming Street
Charleston, SC  29413
(843) 722-4075

 

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