“Always be prepared” is a saying attributed to Scouting, but long before its advent Jesus told the disciples a parable about foolish maidens who ran out of oil for their lamps. I think about the parable every time I hear a report of a disaster. Last weekend 110 tornadoes touched down in eight states in the Midwest, destroying entire communities.
On July 23, 2010 at 6:30 a.m. Chicago experienced flooding, the third largest disaster in the nation according to FEMA. It was my first lazy Saturday and I was up with my coffee and blanket on the sofa to enjoy the rain against the window and a few episodes of “Law and Order.” Suddenly I heard what sounded like an explosion and as I got to the basement door I could see furniture, appliances and keepsakes swirling around in 2 feet of fast moving water in my basement. I quickly learned that I was not prepared to handle this catastrophe. And, the city and its workers that were supposed to protect and serve were flooded too!
My point? Before this personal experience, reports of disasters were just reports. It was news and quickly forgotten news. But each disaster brings with it years of recovery— there are still people on the Southside of Chicago with the dreaded black mold growing in their basements.
I think back on that day and the following 72 hours. It wasn’t the hauling of ruined belongings out of basements that is appreciated. It was the encouraging words and sharing cell phones to call relatives or a cup of water that is remembered.
People of faith must take and offer preparedness training for natural disasters and the spiritual ones that come with them. To get prepared start with these questions—
- Do you know what kinds of natural disasters your area is vulnerable to?
- What is your first line of defense?
- Do you know who to call?
- Does your family and community have an evacuation plan?
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship.