United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands


Crises Preparedness and Response Capability Guidelines for Congregations and Council -2022

Crises Preparedness and Response Capability
Guidelines for Congregations and Council -2022


Crises come in several forms. We cannot protect ourselves from all of these, and here, our faith that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ, must play an overriding role. It is important to remember also that personal crisis, (accidents, death, life-threatening disease, abandonment, loss of home by fire, etc.) can affect an individual or a family as much as a national disaster and the persons so affected need the love, care and concern of the Church as much as when national disasters strike.

Secondly, crises take two basic forms: those that are preceded by some kind of warning and those that are unpredictable. The incidences of the former will be hurricanes. These types of crises can be planned for and, normally, additional, specific preparations made once a warning is given. For the unpredictable, some mitigation can, and should, be put in place, e.g., fire and health care insurance, fire alarms and extinguishers. (The Church should strongly encourage members to put in place adequate insurance protection so as not to be dependent on, or a burden to, others and the Government.
It may be advisable for the Church to find creative ways to help persons secure such protection, rather than rely on helping them find the larger resources that will be needed in the case of severe damage to buildings or major medical expenses while un- or under-insured.) A basic plan can be prepared for some of them – e.g., fire escape routes and routines that will help to alleviate fear. In the case of national or global pandemics, we should ensure we closely follow procedures announced by the national medical authorities. As Christians, we have heightened obligations to offer help, sensibly, in all cases.


Resources, Databank

Congregations should structure themselves to be able to respond rapidly and lovingly in the case of personal crises, without the Minister being the only one responding. Certain personal crises will dictate a particular sensitivity in relating to those affected. Allied to this is the fact that the Minister, or any other counsellor, cannot initiate counselling with someone, no matter how badly they may appear to need it, and here a friendly voice of another member or relative could be vital in getting the person to start talking with the Minister or another counsellor.
The ability to respond will include the establishment of a data bank to ensure that Members and Adherents can be referred quickly to the right agency or person able to help in the particular need. This will include:
o Who is available for counselling, in addition to the Minister? Is there anyone on the staff or amongst the membership appropriately trained and approved by the Minister for this purpose?
o Bethesda Counselling Centre –   946-6575; 9236488
o A list of other professional counsellors, Government and private, and any specialities.
o The contact details of the local Children and Family Services unit.
o Cayman Islands Crisis Centre – 949-0366 – Crisis Line 943-2422
o Police Family Support Unit – 946-9185, as well as your local station
o Women’s Resource Centre – 949-0006
o Lawyers for Legal Advice (besides through the FRC)
o Persons for basic financial advice and referrals to the right company/agency
o Members who can lend a caring ear, some who may have been trained in grief ministry or brief counselling, who can help with insurance claims/explanations, etc.

Either type of crisis can affect all our Members and Adherents. However, there are some individuals for whom the Congregation can and should establish special structures to ensure a level of care on an ongoing basis – e.g., the elderly and others living alone – and in the event of national emergency, such as a hurricane watch/warning.


Therefore, on an ongoing basis, Congregations should implement a structure and arrangements to ensure attention to the following:
1. That the full list of all our Members and Adherents is reviewed and a ‘needs assessment’ (not an income assessment!) completed for each person. Where special needs, such as those listed below, are identified, then arrangements, as follows, should be made and implemented. (This procedure will require regular, planned updates.)
2. Persons living alone are checked on daily by someone – where there are family members or neighbours who do this faithfully, there may be no need for the Church membership to impose themselves, but simply to let the individual and the relative/neighbour know that we are available to help and who to contact. Depending on the circumstances, the question may also need to be asked whether the person should continue living alone.
3. Special arrangements for similar oversight may also be needed where more than one elderly person live together, and to ensure proper use of medication, taking regular meals, etc.
4. Especially when there are no close, younger relatives involved, the Congregation will want to ensure that the living quarters of such persons are properly outfitted with sanitary and safety equipment, etc.
5. Such ‘alone’ persons should also be visited more regularly, on a planned basis, by the Congregation, invited out if they are still mobile, etc., as well as the ad hoc visits by the Minister and members in the spirit of friendship and love.
6. Persons with young children also need to be given special consideration in our planned ministries of care and support. The number of children may be a factor, or the income level of the parent(s), the health considerations, and whether there are two parents or only one, and the level of ‘grandparent’ and other family support.
7. Depending on the circumstances of the household (e.g., age), the Church should be alert to ensuring that the home is equipped with basic safety equipment – e.g., fire/smoke detector alarms in the house, fire extinguishers, and that the individuals know how to use them.
8. Consideration must also be given to the situation of non-Caymanians living here – do they have any family, or a friends-network already established?

Secondly, Congregations must be ready to give guidance, oversight and assistance when a national emergency is declared. In all cases, this will mean ensuring that guidance and direction given by the appropriate governmental agencies are followed.

In the case of hurricanes, most steps can and should be ready in advance and reviewed before 1st June annually. These must include:

A. Each Congregation should have in place a Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan, which covers the functioning of the church itself, protection of the buildings – including the manse, etc. – the essential records, and the ability to resume the work of the church if the primary location – office and/or sanctuary – should be destroyed. These arrangements must include adequate distribution of the list of members and adherents, to ensure that there should be copies of these available immediately after the event to ensure that all are checked on (see B below). [There is a Council Plan in the Council Manual which may be used as a basis, but many elders will have access to professionally designed plans that can be used as guidance.]

B.  A Plan of Action covering the Congregation’s Minister, Members and Adherents. This should have categorised the individuals, to enable us to give priority to  those who may need our help the most:
o Age/infirmity
i. Any who require critical care where the loss of electricity at the hospital(s) may have life-threatening implications, e.g., those on dialysis. Such persons may need to leave the Island before the onset of an intense hurricane.
ii. Include the ability to turn off utilities, concerns re propane, prescription needs, other physical considerations
o Single parent with minor children
o Extended Family not available
o Know official shelter - or Medical Shelter, if needed?
o No Available Transportation
o Strength of house and availability of resources to make storm-ready
o Ability to obtain (and keep secure) hurricane kit supplies, including water

After identifying the persons under B above who warrant special concern, the Congregation must then seek to sensitively confirm the situation with those persons and establish individual plans of action for each person likely to need special assistance in the event a hurricane watch, or warning is issued. These plans will include, as applicable:
o Those who may need to leave the Island (see (i) above); those who will need to be evacuated to an official shelter or another place of safety with members or others; and what kind of help each will need to facilitate relocation.
o Those who will need help to secure their homes, and whether or not they will be able to pay for this to be done (i.e., whether they only need a member to organise the work for them, or whether they will need the work done by volunteers).
o Lists of volunteers for shuttering houses, transporting evacuees, putting in food and medical supplies, etc.
o List of agencies and groups who are providing emergency services, rebuilding, road clearing, etc., known builders who can be called on to begin making repairs to church properties and properties of members, giving priority to needed living conditions.
o The persons who will be responsible for establishing the list of Members/Adherents who, after the event, are determined as needing specified help and ensuring they receive it.
The Congregation will also want to ensure that all Members/Adherents know that they should establish and keep under review a personal plan for themselves and their families – see appendix for those members who need help with this.
NB. Please seek to obtain a Hurricane Survival Kit which contains detailed information on what preparations and precautions each of us should undertake and helpful numbers. Please keep handy and follow the advice in that.

The Congregation should endeavour to implement arrangements to stockpile food, sanitary supplies, wipes, water, etc., to make available to persons in need after the storm if persons have lost their supplies, shops are unable to reopen, etc. Care must be taken in choosing where to keep this stockpile. Volunteers should be ready to make assessments and help distribute such supplies (and the list of these volunteers maintained by the Minister and delegated Elders).

Members and Adherents are also encouraged, depending on their personal circumstances, to volunteer to assist in the community as far as possible, as Shelter Wardens/Assistants, aid distributors, clean-up crews, rebuilding groups, etc. Often the extent of the work required to be done, which would include that needed by our Members and Adherents, is of such magnitude and requires such equipment and skills that Members/Adherents may not have these in sufficient supply, and working with Government and other relief agencies, other Church and community groups may be the most effective way of bringing help to our people and others.

The Synod has also requested each Congregation to create and build up a fund from which disaster recovery assistance can be quickly provided, both locally and internationally. After a badly damaging hurricane, the Congregation should endeavour to financially assist those Members/ Adherents (and others in the community) who have suffered major losses, especially those who are underinsured or those who have restricted incomes, etc.

As soon as possible after the emergency has been lifted, Members/Adherents should begin checking on each other as the situation dictates – i.e., travel may be the only form of communicating and that may be restricted. And as soon as possible again, the Minister and Elders should begin meeting to ensure coordination of the verification of the safety and situation of each Member/Adherent. Therefore, other Members who have made contact with persons in the Congregation should try to report to the Minister/ Elder the situations that they have verified, to expedite the process. The agreed procedure should then be followed for listing the help needed by each Member/Adherent and how this will be provided, who is taking responsibility for whom, etc.


Each Congregation should verify to Council the extent of the Plans they have in place. Council members – at least the Minister and 2 others from each Congregation - all have a list with contact details of each other. Normally the Chair of Council and the RDGS will initiate calling the Ministers and/or Council together to assess the situation in each Congregation/District. However, any other member of the Council can begin this process if these two individuals are not heard from in a timely way, as this may depend on the extent of damage to communication systems as well as personal circumstances.


The Church should also ensure that all its Members and Adherents are aware of the need to have a plan and to have the necessary preparations in place throughout the (normal) Hurricane Season. Such plans may be made available by the Cayman Government agencies from time to time, and those should be used. The following list from (largely) the National Hurricane Centre in the US may also be followed:

 Know your Emergency Shelter. There will be at least one Emergency Medical Shelter in each District for persons eligible for these because of their frailty, mobility, functional and/or medical condition. If in that category, ensure you know the EMS for your District.
 Water – at least one gallon daily per person for 3 – 7 days. When a hurricane warning is issued, tubs and other larger containers may also be filled with water for flushing toilets, bathing, etc. BUT care: depending on the level of a tub (and other factors), when the water table rises wastewater may come up through the drain and ruin the water stored. The atmospheric pressure changes during a storm may also cause stoppers to come loose in tubs, basins, etc., and the stored water to be lost.
 NB – for water and food, store as much as you can, even if more than 7 days supply. But if you will need to move to a shelter you will only be able to take a 3 -4 days’ supply because of storage limitations.
 Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days:
- Non-perishable packaged or canned food, juices, milk
- Foods for infants or the elderly
- Snack foods
- Non-electric can opener
- Cooking tools/fuel (care!)
- Paper plates and plastic utensils
- Plastic bags etc. for waste (disposal may be a problem for some time)
 Rain gear, sturdy shoes
 First aid kit/medicines/prescription drugs (adequate for a possible extended period)/list of food/medicine/etc. to which any household members are allergic.
 Special Items for babies (formula, bottles, sanitizers, diapers, something to keep them occupied, etc.) and the elderly – including walkers, wheelchairs, canes etc. that they need.
 Toiletries/Hygiene items/moisturised wipes
 Flashlight(s) and batteries
 Battery Radio and extra batteries
 Cash (with some small bills) – stores etc. may reopen before banks/ATMs
 In the event of a warning – ensure your KEYS (car, house, etc.) are on you securely, if you have to move quickly!!!
 Secure Important Documents in waterproof containers – and take them with you if you have to evacuate before the storm. These include Passports, Insurance details, inventories, medical records, bank account numbers, Academic, Professional and Vocational Qualifications, credit cards, etc. Note- family pictures are also important to us and at least some should be made as secure and watertight as possible.
 Tools – keep a set with you during the storm – hammers, nails, pliers plus any drills, screws, saws, etc. you may have.
 Ensure vehicle fuel tanks are kept at least half-full during the season and are filled when there is a warning. Beware the dangers though of storing fuel, especially gasoline, in a house etc.
 Cell phones and their car chargers are desirable.
 Any Pet needs. (Pets may not be allowed in shelters if you need to evacuate.)
 Details of what to do afterwards and the precautions to take as advised by the Government each year and during the emergency.

It is best to have hurricane supply storage (preferably waterproof containers) and keep the above supplies ready throughout the hurricane season, to avoid panic buying when a warning is issued, and the stores are filled with shoppers.

If you have to evacuate, in addition to the above, clothing, pillows, ‘bedding’ (a sleeping bag is allowed in the Government shelters but due to space constraints cots and air-mattresses may not), toys, books, games, etc., will be needed.

Ensure family members know how to secure the home with shutters, etc., turn off electricity, central water supply, disconnect cistern downspouts, close return valves on septic tanks (where available) and who is responsible for each of these duties. Clear trees, coconuts, loose wood, etc., in the yard that may damage the house.

The Government advises on this all the time – listen and follow. Know where vehicles should be parked, be as safe as possible from anything that may fall or from flooding as happened extensively during Ivan.

The Cayman Government recommends that families discuss and agree on an emergency plan – including agreeing with members how they feel about staying home, leaving the island, etc. Ensure family members know escape routes and they recommend ensuring all members have a contact of someone overseas to whom each can report after the emergency to confirm if they are well, etc., and get news on the other family members who have reported in.

God is Our Refuge
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
- From Psalm 46  

Posted by: Administrator Thursday Jun 30, 2022 07:05
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United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands