◼ What should be done when a disaster strikes that directly affects our brothers?
If a Disaster Strikes in Your Area: Do not panic. Keep your composure, and concentrate on what is truly valuable—life, not possessions. Care for your family’s immediate physical needs. Then notify the elders about your circumstances and present location.
The elders and ministerial servants play a crucial role in providing relief assistance. If advance warning of a disaster is given, as with some major storms, these brothers should ensure that everyone is in a safe location, and if time permits, should obtain and distribute supplies that may be needed.
Afterward, book study conductors should locate each family and inquire of their well-being. The presiding overseer or another elder should be notified of the situation of each household, even if all is well. If someone has been injured, the elders will try to arrange for medical treatment. They will also provide any material things such as food, clothing, shelter, or household supplies that are needed. (John 13:35; Gal. 6:10) The local elders will give spiritual and emotional support to the congregation and will arrange as quickly as possible to resume congregation meetings. After a thorough evaluation has been made, an elder should contact the circuit overseer on behalf of the body of elders to apprise him of any injuries, damage to the Kingdom Hall, or damage to the homes of the brothers, as well as of any special needs. The circuit overseer will then telephone the branch office with a report of the situation. The branch office will coordinate any large-scale relief measures that are needed.
If a Disaster Strikes Elsewhere: Remember the brothers and sisters in your prayers. (2 Cor. 1:8-11) If you wish to provide monetary assistance, you may send your donations to the Society, where a relief fund is set aside for this purpose. The address is: Watchtower, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483. (Acts 2:44, 45; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:5-7; see the December 1, 1985, Watchtower, pages 20-2.) Do not send materials or supplies to the disaster area unless specifically requested by the brothers in charge. This will assure an orderly relief effort and the proper distribution of goods. (1 Cor. 14:40) Please do not telephone the Society unnecessarily, as this can tie up phone lines that are needed to handle incoming calls from the disaster area.
After a proper assessment has been made, the Society will determine if a relief committee should be formed. Responsible brothers will be notified. All should cooperate with the elders taking the lead so that the critical needs of all the brothers are adequately met.—See Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pages 310-15.