Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

1 St. Francis Drive - Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561

Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane season has been very eventful this year with several severe impacts in our hemisphere. Fortunately for us in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, there have been no landfalls of major storms here. However, we have all felt the stress and impacts of the storms by preparing for them in our households and our church. Father Tim and others have communicated via email and personal conversations on many topics related to storm activity. He has established teams to both expand our communications with church members and plan for activities to support both pre-storm and post-storm actions.

St. Francis continues to be a member of the Gulf Breeze Interfaith Disaster Resources team. Churches participating in this interfaith/city team have large electric generators which will enable them to offer assistance to our community following a major storm. Our commitment at St. Francis is to house military or police personnel following a storm, should they be sent to our area. A few years ago, we purchased cots and sleeping bags so we could offer a reasonably comfortable place to sleep and shower. We also offer our kitchen for their use, but are not required to provide food. Other churches have made commitments to provide housing as well, and arrange for or prepare and provide food, and food workers, water and ice, support seniors and special needs, organize clothing and medical supplies, provide child care for emergency workers, and coordinate volunteer support; all coordinated by the city of Gulf Breeze. Following the major flood a few years ago, teams of workers came to Gulf Breeze to assist in the repair of some severely damaged homes and they were grateful for having a place to anchor their five-day stays here.

Approximately three years ago, we surveyed parishioners to see if there was a need for us to use our church for shelter during a hurricane. We also gathered general information regarding special needs or the wish to volunteer post-storm. Last year we provided a Season of Resilience plan with a handout given each week for five weeks to help plan for and recover from a storm and develop an emergency kit for their home. It has been decided that the church may, based on need, offer shelter during a category one storm. If we decide to shelter pre-storm, it will be for parishioners only. If a storm is anticipated to be a higher level storm, we may assist in getting our church members to a shelter further north in Pensacola.

We are now developing a new questionnaire which we will give to parishioners to help us be more prepared for possible future events. Most of us have completed our private preparations for this season. There have been multiple publications available each year, numerous websites with much information, and many activities that we as a church are participating in to help those far from Gulf Breeze who have been severely damaged by this season’s storms. We believe we can help families prepare for a storm and assist each other and those outside our immediate church family after a storm by establishing an ever changing data base of the needs and talents of our Parish members.

Prior to the 2018 hurricane season, we will host the April parish supper, with an emergency preparedness guest speaker and provide information to assist in being ‘ready’ at the onset of next year’s storm season. If you have questions about our emergency planning or response activities, or wish to assist, please contact Alice Lane or Martha McMahon.