Before the LTR group begins, first a community faces the essential tasks of immediate response, search and rescue, and assessing the full scope of damage. Communities often will create Family Assistance Centers or Local Assistance Centers for residents hopefully to reconnect with family members who are missing, or to gain access through a one-stop shop of essential resources. Once the first phase of response is complete, LTR groups can help communities leverage their assets most effectively, reduce the duplication of efforts, and meet unmet needs.
ICTG’s Senior Advisor for Congregations, FEMA, and VOAD Relations Harvey Howell knows what it takes to make a successful LTR group. Harvey has volunteered on 100+ disaster relief deployments, covering over 27 states. His focus has been on providing training to communities on disaster preparation, response, and recovery.
Below, Harvey shares seven tips for community and faith leaders alike to keep in mind when helping their communities rebuild after severe loss from natural disasters:
#1- It's a marathon, not a sprint. As soon as possible, establish a steady pace for the long journey rather than a mad dash. This will prevent burnout and model strong faith in God's promises, even when we don't yet see the destination.
#2- To accomplish #1, spend time getting organized. This is especially true when faced with the pressure to urgently "do something". Spending time getting organized will be more effective in the long run.
#3- Each of us brings different practical and spiritual gifts. Remember not everyone fits the same role, and a good long-term recovery team will incorporate people with a range of gifts.
#4- Authority matters in bringing order amid chaos and kindness goes a long way in creating trust and building reliable relationships.
#5- The work of every committee, no matter how simple or detailed, menial or highly skilled, is accomplished by the team – more than just one person. In addition to accomplishing the task at-hand, LTR Committee work affords opportunity to share burdens, observe future leadership in development, and practice faith through action.
#6- The touchstone to #5 is to encourage as many participants as possible to engage in the work of long-term recovery, even if one could do the task. If one person is standing in a doorway, no one else can get into the room. Encourage participation from as wide a circle as possible.
#7- Well-written minutes for LTR meetings are among the most encouraging documents an LTR Committee can produce. They can demonstrate progress, provide snapshots of the journey, give community-building messages, and HELP FUNDERS who want to be part of the story.
You can learn more about LTR guidelines here.
* Interested in learning more trauma-informed best practices for your organization? Visit the ICTG training menu to purchase ICTG’s most popular on-demand education guides, assessments, modules, seminars, and more.
You can get essential education and support to congregation and community leaders by making a financial contribution today.