USC Dornsife College Of Letters Arts and Sciences

University of Southern California

Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods. When disaster strikes, congregations and faith-based organizations play a critical role. They provide food, counseling, shelter, transportation and communications to their congregants as well as their surrounding communities.

Their disaster response activities, however, are rarely systematized, nor are faith groups included in the disaster planning process. Congregations are expected to respond but largely operate outside of the formal governmental structures that manage disasters. Through its research, CRCC has developed the knowledge base needed to understand religious groups’ roles and assets, as well as how the government can best partner with these groups. Coordinating disaster preparedness and response will maximize the efforts between policy-makers and faith communities.

Photo Credit: Serve Indiana

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“Faith-based organizations represented around two-thirds of the social service agencies involved in recovery efforts following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina. A recent study determined that over 60 percent of American turn first to their religious leaders for advice and direction in times of crisis.”

Faithful Action: Working with Religious Groups in Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery