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What initial steps should churches take to prepare for natural disasters?

"Keep an axe in your attic." You will probably not need that piece of advice that generations of New Orleans residents have learned as a part of their hurricane preparedness. (During the flooding that followed Katrina in 2005, that axe or hatchet saved the lives of hundreds who hacked their way onto their roof and were rescued from the floodwaters.)

If we assembled a representative group of New Orleans pastors who came through that hurricane, their suggestions would include the following:

1) Get emergency contact information on every church member and store it in a portable file. You particularly want next-of-kin information—people who would know how to contact the member in case of a disaster or evacuation. That file must be continually updated, otherwise it's useless.

2) If you live in a flood plane, move your church's primary computers to a secure area on the second floor.

3) Form a "rapid response team," made up of a few key church leaders with skills, judgment, and experience for ...

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