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San Mateo County: Pilot Program Involves San Mateo County Clergy and Congregations in Disaster Preparation Efforts

Case Story

The Peninsula Clergy Network (PCN) is a professional association of the Peninsula’s 440 clergy. The PCN’s pilot disaster preparedness and response project in Redwood City creates a structure that incorporates congregations into the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services (OES) emergency response system. The project has designed three cluster areas with a different core congregation as the response center for each cluster and other congregations playing a supporting role. Core congregations are located within a mile of each other.They are meant to be a resource for the entire neighborhood, according to PCN Program Coordinator Gina Quiney. “The idea is that people will come to the core congregations in an emergency and someone there will be able to direct them to a congregation that has the needed resources,” said Quiney.

So far, the network has submitted a questionnaire to all congregations in the area asking about their available resources. PCN is also working with Redwood City neighborhood liaisons, other nonprofits and city agencies to create a structure for communication using community and congregation representatives. In order to ensure that all residents are aware of and engaged in emergency preparedness, PCN has translated disaster preparation materials into Spanish and Tongan. Emergency preparation trainings are being organized in collaboration with congregations. In addition, water that is stored in non-plastic containers that can be kept for up to five years is being distributed through congregations at $15 for 12 one-liter boxes.

Future plans include working with the American Red Cross and OES to identify and prepare emergency shelters and to train people from congregations to work at these shelters. Following the pilot, this project will be expanded to additional communities in order to engage more congregations as neighborhood institutions for disaster preparedness and response.

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