Disaster Preparedness and Recovery
Are you Ready?
The Rev. Paul Snyder
Diocesan Disaster Recovery Coordinator
Phone: (405) 232-4820
In May of 2013, a series of deadly tornadoes swept through the state leaving a wide path of disaster, destruction and devastation. Due to the severity of these storms, President Obama declared a major disaster area in the state and ordered federal aid to support state and local recovery efforts. As support poured in from throughout The Episcopal Church, across the country and around the world, the Diocese provided financial assistance to many families directly affected by the storms.
As part of those early recovery efforts, representatives from Episcopal Relief & Development arrived in the Diocese to assist with surveying disaster areas, discussing relief efforts currently underway and addressing plans to develop long-term assistance.
After visiting with clergy and lay leaders of congregations, city and county officials, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and victims directly impacted by the tornadoes, the Diocesan staff and Episcopal Relief & Development began crafting a plan for effective and sustainable long-term disaster preparedness and recovery. Out of these discussions, a long-term strategy for the Diocese was developed.
A crucial piece of this strategic plan was the addition of a diocesan staff position responsible for overseeing the operations and coordination of the disaster preparedness and recovery efforts throughout the Diocese. This position was partially supported by a generous grant from Episcopal Relief & Development. Subsequently, Anne Kueteman was hired to serve as the Diocesan Disaster Recovery Coordinator and served in this role through January 2017. In her time with the Diocese, Anne helped numerous congregations and institutions create effective and sustainable disaster preparedness strategies, coordinated on the ground recovery and rebuilding plans and assisted in efforts to become Red Cross Resource Centers or Partner Shelters.
In 2014, efforts for disaster recovery in the diocese were centered in the following counties: Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian, Lincoln and Pottawatomie. When the wildfires struck Logan County, the diocese was there with aid; when the tornado plowed through Quapaw, the diocese was once again represented and assisted with rebuilding.
From March to June of 2015, disaster struck Oklahoma again, the likes of which, even the most seasoned emergency manager had not seen before: tornadoes and flooding rains due to an El Nino year, then Tropical Storm Bill. There were thousands of families affected and nearly ¾ of all Oklahoma counties were deemed Federal disaster areas. Over 300 families across Oklahoma were assisted by the diocese through gift cards and other resources, and those recovery efforts will continue in the form of Long-Term Recovery Committees, which the diocese helps fund. These recovery committees may be in effect for years.
In 2016, Bishop Ed announced the formation of a new Diocesan Disaster Response Team. This team serves in assisting congregations throughout the state of Oklahoma in the areas of: disaster preparedness coordination, congregations' and institutions' Disaster Preparedness Plans, post-disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts, pastoral care, multi-agency resource centers, Red Cross Resource Centers and Partner Shelters, coordination with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs), long-term recovery committees, and case management.
The Diocesan Disaster Recovery Office continues to identify and address needs in all areas of the state, regardless of whether or not there is a local Episcopal church nearby. This philosophy has been appreciated many times over by those we have helped.
We continue to be vigilant, for, in Oklahoma, it is not a matter of “if” another disaster will hit, but “when”.
Santa Maria Virgen Red Cross Partner Shelter (May 2015)
Pecan Valley Relief Center (May 2014)
May 2013 Storm Damage