The “First 72 Hours” summit is a combined initiative of American Red Cross, Joseph’s Network and Noah’s Ark to prepare Georgia communities for any and all kinds of disasters that might strike. This Georgia initiative is being considered a “Best Practice” by the National Red Cross Headquarters as it hits a lot of the check marks that the Red Cross considers important.
The idea is to have a “disaster preparedness summit for faith leaders so they know more on how to better prepare their faith home, teach preparedness tips to their members, and how to be an engaged effective partner during disasters,” according to Carisa Hettich of the Red Cross.
After a disaster strikes, the first 72 hours are very important since most lives could be saved (if all goes according to plan) during this time period, as in the case of the recent cyclone Phaillin in India. A lack of preparation can also prove quite costly as in the case of Hurricane Katrina. It is doubly important for Georgians to prepare now since recent research has found that the Tornado Alley has shifted and has grown wider and includes the North Western portions of Georgia.
The first 72 hours summit is garnering a lot of support from local faith based groups since the idea of organizing such an event together as partners is unique. The Gwinnett County faith groups have been working together not only to organize a successful event but learning about each other along the way. Some of these groups like the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Hispanic congregation of Christian United International Church and the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints might have never gotten a chance to meet each other otherwise.
The organizers of the summit are especially excited since this initiative promises to bring disaster preparedness to those communities who either due to their small size or lack of resources would not have the chance to prepare for disasters on their own.
Michele McMahon who works for the Gwinnett, Rockdale, and Newton County as a Healthcare liaison hopes that “all faith based communities get to know each other during a non crisis mode, so not only will they be prepared, they will be prepared to work together!”
The same hope is also echoed by most who attended the summit planning committee meeting held at CentroMisionero El Shaddai in Duluth on October 14.
Gwinnett County Commissioner Lynette Howard, Janay Stargell of GEMA, Jack Morgan from American Red Cross, and Laura George of Portlight Strategies will be among the special presenters for the summit that will take place on October 24th at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lilburn. More information about this free disaster preparedness summit can be found at www.josephsnetwork.com.
So far the summit has brought together people from diverse faith backgrounds, civil groups, and disaster relief related government agencies. The organizers hope that after the summit, this newly established network will keep these communities engaged and working together so that the next time a disaster strikes, they are all well prepared to strike right back.