Organizations Partner in Disaster Response

When disasters strike, local faith based organizations are among the first to offer aid. Houston Public Radio’s Rod reports that when a federal disaster is declared the local and federal organizations are more affective if they’re work together.

That’s why the Department of Homeland Security held a workshop for faith based organizations in Houston. John Kim Cook, the Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives with DHS says the workshop had two purposes.

“To provide some information on the federal response mechanisms about how people at the local level and the state level ca fit into that framework during a disaster and how they can plan for that. And secondly, to provide an opportunity for people to talk about the affective best practices that they have here in the community.”

Rolan Chambless with the Salvation Army in Houston says the Feds can’t do everything and local groups are more flexible and can react to situations quicker than Washington. He also says workshops are a two way street.

“It allows the federal government, in this case, to kind of know what’s happening at the local level, and it gives the local area a chance to talk to the feds about what are they doing in Washington.”

The workshop wasn’t only about the federal plan and how local groups fit into it. There was also a session on Homeland Security grants available to local groups. Ruama Camp with Grace Community Services says during hurricanes Katrina and Rita many local organizations spent a lot of money.

“A lot of the churches that participated ran out of funds because they didn’t know that they were going to have to shelter people that long, case manage families that long, and so if you don’t keep it in front of the public eye, then the funds will go somewhere else.”

DHS says the Houston workshop was the third of ten to be held across the country.