Helping Our Congregations Prepare for Hurricane Laura

August 25, 2020Amy Asin

As we watch the predictions and follow local authorities’ in preparing for and responding to Hurricane Laura, the URJ stands ready to assist congregations before, during, and after the storm.

Our primary message right now is for you to please stay in touch and share updates as you are able in the Disaster Response group in the Tent using #HurricaneLaura. We have learned that by continually assessing the situation on the ground, we can determine – with your communication, of course – the best ways to rally the entire North American Reform Jewish network to support your congregation and local community.

This support could include: a list of congregations ready to provide assistance; encouraging the sending of gift cards so families can replace items (i.e. clothing, toiletries, and school supplies) damaged in the storm; or assistance with livestreaming services and widely distributing your congregational leadership messages (including emails) – and of course, your congregation’s individual needs might be altogether different. 

Preparing for a response to a natural disaster in a time of pandemic raises new challenges. Be clear ahead of time who has responsibility for taking the Torah out of the building, if warranted, and who should check the building itself for damage. Make sure that there is a protocol in place for who has access to social media accounts, email accounts, etc so that there is a back-up in place. 

Please update your leadership information with the URJ so that we are able to reach you during an emergency. Go to URJ.org/Marketplace and the My Congregations and Members tab to update leaders’ names and contact information, or send changes to DisasterResponse@urj.org. You can also send any specific questions about URJ hurricane response to that address.

Members of the URJ staff and our local lay and professional leadership will be reaching out to the most likely affected areas for brief check-ins and status updates. 

As you prepare, here is a checklist of items to help you craft messages to your congregation:

  • How to get in touch with congregational clergy, professionals or lay leaders (provide email address, phone, and/or social media)
  • Local, municipal help lines or reporting (provide phone number or web address)
  • Encourage check-ins (either via email, phone, or social media)
  • How volunteers can reach out to offer assistance

These resources may also be helpful:

For ongoing updates, please follow the URJ on Facebook and Twitter and consult the Disaster Response group in The Tent – and if you are not in an affected area but have localized support or help to offer, please also post in the Disaster Response group in The Tent.

We pray for your safety, and that Hurricane Laura becomes merely a temporary inconvenience.

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the communications and collaboration platform for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook

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