Communication and coordination are the most powerful predictors of success in disaster response. Coordinated delivery of relief and recovery services prevents redundancy, saves money, minimizes disruption of services and improves outcomes. 

The mission of the Congregational Disaster Readiness Initiative is to expedite relief and recovery in communities impacted by a disaster.

This program is a COMPREHENSIVE, COLLABORATIVE, and COHERENT (3C’s) action plan for congregations to effectively deliver essential relief and recovery services during and after a disaster, in partnership with and in support of responsible agencies.





  • Generate a single umbrella group which will integrate and coordinate the efforts of all congregations within an area and ensure that these plans are:
  • Inclusive of the needs of all stakeholders (survivors and service partners).
  • Integrated with, and supported by, the responsible official relief organizations.
  • Identify, recruit, organize, train, and mobilize congregations to respond in an integrated and cooperative manner during disasters.
  • Create shareable standards, best practices, and establish centralized communication.
  • Coordinate and deploy relief and recovery efforts. 





  • Enhanced community resilience
  • Improved quality, consistency, and coverage of services
  • Expedited relief and recovery for families and neighborhoods
  • Development of leaders and trained volunteers within congregations
  • Decreased service cost by eliminating redundant services 
  • Increased community engagement and situational awareness
  • Financial sustainability for local disaster relief and recovery groups
  • More accessible support services for congregations and the community


Coordination of Relief and Recovery Efforts of Congregations Includes: 

Communication Task-force: 

Creating a multi-level, two-way communication platform to address a diversity of communication needs for alerting, recruiting, deploying and demobilizing response.


Short and long-term Red Cross sheltering and/or ride-out sheltering. 



Supporting shelters by helping survivors wash their clothes.

Medical Support

Assist with non-emergency assistance, such as picking up prescriptions or driving survivors to doctors’ office. 


Help families to care for their pets (dogs and cats), providing kennels and food, while they are staying in a shelter. 

Muck & Gut  

Removing damaged contents and sanitizing the home, according to standards.

Compassionate Care / PreDCM  

Trained caregivers provide emotional and spiritual care to survivors, serving as a listening ear, a calming presence, and laying the groundwork for Disaster Case Management, initiating documentation and reporting.

Chainsaw / Clean Up 

Cutting up fallen trees and disposing of debris.

Supplies Distribution Center (supplying congregations)

Regional warehouse to supply congregations serving as a donation distribution centers.

Donations Distribution Center (supplying survivors)

Distribute essential supplies to survivors and maintaining a database of all survivors for follow-up.

Volunteer Coordination  

Connecting volunteers with opportunities for service.


One of the keys to success will be our preparedness for the disaster.

Our teams need to be equipped to serve and be confident they can serve when called. Every team needs a playbook. A good playbook identifies the team leader(s), the team members, and their contact information. It identifies the training required for the team, their work methods, work standards, and the tools and supplies they will require. The playbook states where the team will gather and where they will serve. It includes a list of resources the team can call if they need help. In short, our teams must be equipped to serve with confidence.

  • They may be required to demonstrate they meet minimum qualifications. For example, the Red Cross has minimum expectations for shelters or muck and gut teams may be asked to assure they have the proper equipment available.

  • They will understand the expectations for serving. These expectations could include attending training, agreeing to perform work to specific standards, and having the right equipment available.

  • They will know where they will be asked to serve.

  • They will understand how, and they will be mobilized for service and how communication will work.



  • OEM – the Harris County Homeland Security and Office of Emergency Management

  • CDR – the Congregational Disaster Readiness Lead.

  • AGENCY – independent agencies such as the Red Cross. They may report directly to the OEM or in response to the CDR lead.

  • COALITIONS– the Disaster Readiness coalitions which are groups of regionally defined congregations that will act in concert.

  • CONGREGATIONS – Congregations that sponsor one or more service teams. Congregations may choose to be active in the process of mobilizing teams or may choose a passive role.

  • TEAM - the service teams that are the cutting edge of disaster response.

  • SERVICE LEADERS – the leaders with the responsibility of setting qualifications, service standards, and setting standards.

  • COMMUNICATIONS HUBS – Coalitions, Agencies, and Active Congregations may all function as communication hubs that receive messages; communicate directly with teams and report status.


Most disasters will not require a county-wide mobilization of all service teams. 

The CDR will ask to mobilize only those service teams necessary to respond to the disaster given its geographic dimension and its nature. Communication will be multi-channel and persistent. Messages will be sent by voice, text, email, and through a smart phone app (multi-channel). The messages will be repeated until a response is received (persistent). 

Most messages will require only a simple response. 

For example:    

  • Mobilize by 9 AM Tuesday. Respond:  1 – Can do; 2- will be delayed no more than three hours; 3- will be delayed no more than 6 hours; 4 – will be delayed one day; or 5-unable to mobilize.

  • Report status as of 9 PM Wednesday. Respond: 1 – operating at less than 50% of capacity; 2 – operating at less than 85% of capacity; 3 – operating at 85%-100% of capacity; 4- demands exceed capacity to serve; 5- unable to mobilize to full capacity.

Every team will have a clear understanding of how they will be mobilized, who they can call for help and how they will report their status.


(1) Express your interest in serving once details are available.   (participation form or link below)

(2) Help serve on one or more of the service teams to establish service team qualifications, training materials, performance standards, and service expectations. (participation form or link below)

(3) Help communicate the need for Congregational Disaster Readiness.


As we move forward with readiness, your participation is important. Please, register to be a part of CDR by filling-out the Congregational Contact and Participation Form.





The American Red Cross    SBP  The Salvation Army    Texas Gulf Coast VOAD   

Interfaith Ministries and Volunteer Houston    Catholic Charities  

Union Baptist Association    JFS - Houston  Presbytery of New Covenant 

 Texas Annual Conference - UMC    South Central Conference - UCC   ICNA  Lutheran Disaster Relief - LCMS     Lutheran Disaster Response - ELCA  

 Center for Disaster Philanthropy