GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) had a convention of sorts at my church yesterday. It concerned the use of faith based organizations (PC speak for churches) to provide for disaster relief operations.
Of course, we have been doing that for years. Well, duh. There are things the state cannot do, such as cut trees off your house, because of laws regarding private property.
Turns out churches have a lot of things going for them in terms of disaster relief. They have organizational structure. They have large sturdy buildings designed to hold a large number of people, complete with furnishings, kitchens, (and cooks and food) bathrooms and so on. Your average church is a ready made shelter. It wouldn't be the first time someone slept in church.
And since we are Baptists, we have several thousand gallons of water on hand. You might not want to drink it (unless filtered, which is doable) but you could flush toilets for days with it.
But here in Georgia anyway, they have begun to realize the value of the work we do and really all they want to do is get people better trained and organized. Our ARES group, SkyWarn, National Weather Service, of course GEMA, local first responders were all there. About 200 people from 35 churches and groups were there.
My job was to demonstrate amateur radio for our ARES group. Found several people interested in becoming hams.
They offered several classes, and unfortunately the most popular was "How to handle an active shooter in your church." That's not too hard to imagine in todays world.
Another popular class was "Preparedness begins at home" and taught you how to become a "prepper" within reason. The lady who taught the class is prepared to live in her home for 30 days without utilities or going out for food. And she is prepared to abandon her house and take only the essentials at a moments notice if she needs to.
The curriculum included a lot of other good stuff that you really need to know about working with GEMA, state DOT, and other agencies.
But if you listened to the "back chatter" what you heard was, if you are not personally prepared for disaster, you need to be. And, if you are not personally prepared to defend yourself and your property, you need to be. You have to look after yourself and your own before you can look after others.
And there was a sense among the government leaders that things are going to continue to get worse socially, and we can expect less and less help from the federal government because of budget issues.
All in all I found the training helpful and the realization by the state of Georgia that ordinary people can often perform better than government to be realistic and refreshing. (Local politicians here have fortunately realized this for some time now)