Communities everywhere look to their houses of worship in times of disaster. Days after Hurricane Michael hit Florida's pan handle in October 2018, trained emergency volunteers from the statewide Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and Recovery Ministries partnered with churches in the affected communities to help recovery efforts.
Connecticut religious groups plan to be ready for the unexpected, too.
Clergy in Bridgeport, the largest city in Fairfield County with a population of 145,000, plan to lead the way. Bridgeport’s religious leaders will have a chance to receive emergency training to know what to do in a natural disaster, mass shooting or some other tragedy.
“Having a plan is the best defense or tool in any hazardous or critical situation that may save lives or mitigate damage," said Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim.
Open to all Bridgeport clergy, training will be Thursday Feb. 25 at Messiah Baptist Church on 210 Congress St. from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and will focus on procedures for how to effectively plan and prepare for any hazard. The city's emergency experts, Director of Emergency Management & Homeland Security Scott Appleby and Bridgeport Police Lt. Paul Grech, will give an overview of Bridgeport's emergency plans, natural hazards preparedness, active aggressor planning and evacuations.
"Having a plan is the best defense or tool in any hazardous or critical situation that may save lives or mitigate damage," said Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim.
He emphasized the importance of the training. “Bridgeport is rich with diversity including an abundance of churches and places of worship throughout the city. This preparedness program is a free service offered by our Emergency Operations Center with the police department, that I hope members of our community clergy will take advantage of."
While the upcoming training session is just for clergy members, city officials do offer designated training to Bridgeport businesses and schools as well.
"We offer these types of trainings in our school systems and for local Bridgeport businesses. Sending photos and a layout of the business or church facility so that emergency responders have accurate information to help get in fast and bring resolve to any issues is crucial," said Emergency Management Director Scott Appleby.
Interested religious leaders may register for the Feb. 25 training by calling the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport at (203) 334-1121.