Levels of Disasters

There are four levels used to describe the severity of disasters:

Level I: A small local disaster usually affecting one to thirty households, which is within the capabilities of local community resources to handle.

· Relief: Initially our church may need some help from the district or conference. Volunteers from within the community and nearby churches will assist with crisis counseling, cleanup and emergency repairs. The bishop may request the churches within the conference take a special offering. One or two ERT/Care teams may be brought in to work alongside local volunteers.

· Recovery: Just a few people could perform all of the management functions-i.e. provide ministry of caring, manage cases, and coordinate volunteer management, donations, and networking of resources.

Level II: a medium-sized disaster usually affecting 40 to 150 households, which is beyond the capabilities of local community resources to handle.

· Relief: Local churches must have assistance. The bishop should solicit an offering as soon as possible. A segment of the Conference Disaster Response Center is mobilized for assessment and management. Site management of volunteers must be in place as soon as possible for crisis counseling, cleanup and emergency repairs.

· Recovery: An interfaith or United Methodist recovery team is necessary, with a paid director or a skilled, long-term volunteer whose expenses are reimbursed. The team will administer the operation, assisted by volunteers and a paid case manager.

Level III: These are large disasters in terms of severity or geography which cause significant damage and destruction and will usually receive a presidential declaration. A disaster this size within the conference area requires full mobilization of the Conference Disaster Response Center.

· Relief: Resources from the conference and UMCOR are essential. The Disaster Response Center will perform full operational functions. A conference-wide appeal must be made for funds, appropriate in-kind donations and volunteers. UMCOR money will also be needed, as will be Early Response Teams and Information & Referral (I&R) workers.

· Recovery: Paid staff for case management within community-based recovery organizations, and conference-wide coordination of volunteers is necessary. Numerous teams of short-term volunteers for repair and rebuilding are important and will be needed for a year or more.

Level IV: A catastrophic disaster is defined by Public Law 93-288 as: "An event resulting in a large number of deaths and injuries; extensive damage or destruction of facilities that place an overwhelming demand on state and local response resources and mechanisms; a severe impact on national security facilities and infrastructures that sustain them; a severe long-term effect on general economic activity and severe effects on state, local and private sector initiatives to begin and sustain initial response activities."

· Relief: The entire conference response organization must be mobilized. A number of people in conference leadership positions will probably be victims themselves. UMCOR mentors may be necessary to fill slots of those in conference disaster leadership who are unable to function. A conference-wide appeal must be made for funds, appropriate in-kind donations, Early Response Teams (ERTs) and Care teams. UMCOR money will also be needed, as will be Information & Referral (I&R) workers. Perhaps a denomination-wide special appeal will be made.

· Recovery: as in Level III, hired staff for leadership positions is needed rather than utilizing long-term volunteers. Again, case managers and workers will be necessary. Numerous teams of short-term volunteers are required over a period of several years.

 

To ensure timeliness, provide the maximum available resources, avoid redundancy and provide an effective and appropriate response, the church must be ready, at all levels, when disaster strikes. This means planning and preparation before disaster strikes.