Disaster Relief Ministry


As part of our Social Services, SJV has a Disaster Relief Ministry. We want to help in the event our parishioners are affected by a “disaster”. That might be a widespread weather-related event, or a personal situation such as a house fire.

Our mission:

To Serve the Parishioners of St John Vianney by:

Promoting and facilitating disaster preparedness; and
Helping our Parish Community identify and access available disaster relief information and resources and, when necessary, providing a defined set of relief resources not otherwise available.

Our aims are:
  • To look after the well-being of our parishioners before and after an event
  • To provide parishioners with helpful information about preparing for a storm related event
  • To provide or locate resources for parishioners who are affected by a storm or personal disaster
What you can expect us to do:
  • Provide useful and timely information via the bulletin, flyers, and regular emails to help you be prepared.
  • Keep this site updated with helpful information
  • Physical Sub-Team: Provides a preplanned structure and identified key volunteers for responding to local disaster scenarios. Identifies, communicates and leads work teams to address manual labor (demo work, mucking & gutting) needs ahead of and following disaster event.
  • Compassionate Care Sub-Team: Connects survivors as soon as possible to social support networks and community resources, supports adaptive coping, and empowers survivors to take an active role in their recovery. Establishes a human connection in a non-intrusive and compassionate manner, enhances immediate and ongoing safety, and provides physical and emotional comfort. Calms and orients emotionally overwhelmed survivors, facilitates survivors’ identification of immediate needs and concerns, offers practical assistance and information to help address these, identifies those who may need further outreach for longer-term resources and families who may have a higher risk for difficulties with long-term recovery.

A signed release form is required to participate. Construction experience is not required. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Social Services at 281.497.4434


Preparing is Key

Although weather events are the most common emergency situations in our area, people can be affected by other disasters such as house fires, terror attacks or a drought.
For all of them, your family should have a PLAN. There are links below to helpful information about making one for your family. These include information on how to make a family fire escape plan that’s specific to the layout of your home, as well as safety tips and advice about what to do before, during and after an event.

Things to do now (you'll be glad you did!)

Store Important Documents: Consider packing important documents in a waterproof grab-and-go container now. Consider also scanning some of the documents below to store as electronic files. Those and important computer files can be stored on USB thumb-drives or CDs.

Items to consider:
Birth, death and marriage certificates
Diplomas and transcripts
Medical data – current prescriptions, details of medications, illnesses, injuries – and contact information for all doctors (note, also include medical details for your pets)
Financial data – details of bank accounts, credit cards, stocks, insurance (house, car, life) and recent tax returns (don’t forget contact information for all financial institutions)
Contacts – a list containing addresses and phone numbers of friends and family
Family photos (wedding, births, graduations, etc.)
Portfolio – if you’re a writer, designer, artist, or musician, you may wish to add your work to a storage device (if not already there)
Passwords – a list of websites that you frequent and user names/passwords
Technology – be sure to keep computer-related software and serial numbers with the rest of your disaster recovery data (whether on thumb drives or on CDs) – this way, you won’t have to go through the hassle of purchasing new software and starting from scratch in the event of destruction or loss
Insurance recovery – take photos or videos of all large items so that in the event the items are destroyed, you have proof of ownership (for example: cars, TV, computer, other appliances)

Check your Insurance
Anyone that owns a house in Houston needs to consider homeowner’s and flood insurance policies. The Houston/Galveston area is considered to be one of the largest exposure to hurricanes in the world. These are features to review in a homeowner’s policy:
Dwelling coverage (make sure you have replacement cost)
Personal property coverage
Additional living expenses
Homeowners have three different deductibles:
Clause 1: wind/hail coverage
Clause 2: named storm
Clause 3: all other perils
In some homeowner’s policies, hurricane losses are included in Clause 1.
Flood and rising water is not covered under a homeowner’s policy — Separate flood insurance will need to be purchased!
Lack of elevation in the Houston Gulf Coast area leaves every home vulnerable to rising water. Everyone should consider flood insurance coverage. In many cases a policy can be purchased for as little as $400.00

Storm Watches & Warnings

The most serious weather events we have in Houston are Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. Either can spawn tornadoes and flooding. So water and wind are our most common concerns, and are disasters we can PREPARE for.
A storm “watch” means that there is a potential for storm to develop. Stay alert.
A storm “warning” means that severe weather is imminent or already occurring. Do not ignore. Take action by seeking shelter.
You can also sign up to receive alerts.

Storm Coming - What to do?

In the event a tropical storm or hurricane is in store, you should do these things:

  • FILL UP YOUR GAS TANKS BEFORE THE STORM. Power outages are likely, which means that gas pumps will be down. Outages may be prolonged in some areas for days (or even weeks).
  • Prepare for a possible lengthy time without electricity AFTER the storm.
  • Flashlights, batteries are a good idea.
  • Battery operated/hand crank radio will be handy.
  • Prepare for a possible time when your tap water is not safe to drink.
  • Bottled water for drinking
  • Fill a bathtub for other uses
  • During the Storm: Stay inside. Don’t venture out to ’experience’ the storm. Flying debris is dangerous.

Learn more about Emergency Supply kits.

Should you evacuate? Houston authorities say do so:

  • If city/county officials recommend evacuation for your area.
  • If you feel unsafe in your home.
  • If you have a medical device that requires electricity.
  • If you live in a high rise, a mobile home or temporary structure.

Otherwise, plan to shelter in place.  See information about evacuations in our area.

Pre-Register for Transportation in case of Special Needs

Do you have special needs in your family that would require professional help or transportation in an emergency?
You can pre-register now with the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) for transportation.
This is for people with medical needs or a disability, and for anyone who doesn’t have transportation, or who isn’t able to drive in an evacuation situation.
Preregister online or by phone: dial 2-1-1

After a Storm

Wait in place and give it time. Continue to shelter in place until official all-clears are given. Then just necessary trips until things are mostly back to normal. Please do not venture out to sightsee – it risks getting in the way of first responders (and you needing one!)

Flood waters

There may be residual high water in places. Keep in mind that…

  • Flood waters are likely contaminated with sewage, broken glass, snakes and ‘critters’.
  • Never wade in it or let children play in flood waters.
  • Never drive into high water. Pull over and wait until it subsides, or find another route.
  • Watch overhead. There may be broken tree limbs ready to fall.
  • Tune in to official advisories. Use a battery radio of other means unavailable.
  • Limit cell phone use to avoid tying up resources. Text messages are preferred.


If your home has been affected by a flood or other type of disaster, here are tips that can make a big difference:

  1. If you see or suspect open electrical lines, downed power lines, gas or water leaks, call the appropriate utility company right away, and take measures to avoid injury.
  2. When safe to do so, assess damage, and document with photographs if possible. This can help expedite insurance claims.
  3. Call your insurance company right away. Urgency can affect how quickly you get insurance help. This is the first call you should make after utility companies and letting your family know you’re OK.
  4. Get insurance agency permission to secure a contractor. Don’t hire one without their permission – they may not pay!
  5. Meanwhile, do what you can to mitigate the loss – mop up standing water, dry out what you can with fans, move and preserve important belongings. Remember you are partnering with your insurance company to minimize loss.
  6. If you have to leave, secure the property from further damage.
  7. Please contact us so we can provide, or help you access resources.


  • Stay away from downed power lines
  • If you detect gas leaks in your home, you must vacate until clear.
  • Beware of scams! Disasters tend to bring out scammers offering to help you.


A comprehensive list of resources in Houston and surrounding areas. Includes contact information for local fire, police and other emergency agencies; and about disaster situations, shelters, transportation and more! Consider printing it for your Grab & Go document bin!

View | Download

Please take the time to browse these sites below for detailed information. What should be in your grab-and-go kit, how to secure your home, how to prepare for a storm, what to do about pets, how to deal with special needs and disabilities, sign up for alerts, and more.


Year-round Fire Hazards

Heating equipment: Make sure all heating equipment (including fireplaces and chimneys) are maintained and cleaned regularly. Don’t use the oven as a heating device. Portable space heaters are a particular hazard – make sure they are not placed near anything that can burn (bedding, drapes, clothing for example). Use only the recommended fuel. Turn them off when you leave the room.

Medical Oxygen: The use of oxygen in homes is increasing. They are a source of fires, and also burns. Never allow smoking. Make sure equipment is never placed near open flames, fireplaces, candles, heating devices or any device that can “spark” (which can even be a child’s toy!) 

Propane and Gasoline: Make sure you follow safety guidelines for storing, and use approved containers, placed away from heat or sparks.

Portable Generators: Useful during power outages, but pose a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if not placed and used properly. Never run one in an attached garage (even with the doors open). Never place near an open window or vent or door where exhaust fumes can enter the house. Never refuel a generator while it’s running. Let it cool down before refueling. Store fuel in approved containers that are labelled. Equip your home with carbon monoxide detectors.

Clothes Dryers: Biggest culprit is failing to remove lint! Clean it every time. Don’t use a dryer without a lint trap.

Portable fireplaces and Fire Pits: Fun to make S’mores, but definitely a potential hazard. Use only the recommended fuel. Never try to move one that is lit. Place on a sturdy surface. Don’t leave kids unattended. Use a long utility lighter or long match to light. Don’t add fuel on one that is lit or not cooled down. Clean up any fuel spillage completely.

December, January and February are peak months for home fire deaths. Many are related to faulty heating equipment, but holiday activities account for a significant number of house fires. Here are some reasons why, and some tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

Seasonal Hazards

Cooking: The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. The biggest days for such fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day! Stay in the kitchen if you’re frying, broiling or grilling. If you’re roasting, baking or simmering food, check it often. Use a timer to remind you. Keep kitchen towels, paper towels, food wrappings and oven mitts away from the stove. Keep kids away from the stove. Tip: Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire. If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside. If you decide to try to deal with a fire yourself, make sure everyone else gets out, and that you have a clear exit.

Candles: Are a significant cause of house fires! Only use candles in sturdy containers that don’t tip over. Make sure nothing flammable is near a candle. Blow them out when they are mostly burned down. Blow them out before leaving the room. Don’t use candles for light during power outages—opt for battery operated lights instead. Never leave children unattended. Put matches out of children’s reach. Consider battery candles instead.

Christmas trees: Although not the most common, trees can cause some of the most serious fires. Place the tree away from any heat source (like the fireplace). Choose a tree with green needles. Cut the base and place it in water, and replenish the water in the base daily. Remove the tree if it dries out. Never use candles on a tree. Make sure your lights are safety approved and in good working condition. Turn them off when you go to bed.

Fireworks: The most hazardous time for house fires caused by fireworks is Dec 30-Jan1! Consider attending public displays.

For additional information visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website.

House Fire Preparedness


Install smoke alarms: Ideally they would be synced. Make sure they are in working order. Replace old alarms.

Install carbon monoxide detectors: Fire departments nationwide are responding to more calls about carbon monoxide alerts, due to more people having these alarms in their homes. As CO is an odorless gas, it isn’t possible for you to know otherwise that it’s present. If your alarm sounds, you should get everyone outside to a fresh air source and dial 911 for assistance. Test and replace your alarms according to manufacturer instructions. Never run a vehicle in your garage (even with the door open!). Move it or any other fuel powered engines to open air locations. Make sure furnaces, dryers, stoves and fireplaces are vented.

Go on high alert: If your alarms sound: The majority of people in a survey said that “getting out” would not be their first thought upon hearing a smoke alarm.

Have a family escape plan: You may have less time than you think. Maybe only a minute or two to get everyone out. Your whole family needs a plan in advance. Everyone needs to understand the layout of the house, all of the potential escape routes, and where to meet once out of the house. Drills are good! Create an escape plan that your family can use. It’s especially useful for families with kids.

In the Event of a Fire…

The best advice for a house fire is to get your family out first and call the Fire Department from outside the home. If you decide to try to tackle a small fire yourself, get everyone else out first, and make sure YOU have a way to get out as well.

Cooking fires are best extinguished by smothering them…a lid over a burning pan on the stove for example. Don’t throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a stove fire. When in doubt, get out!

Fire extinguishers: These are appropriate devices to have on hand. Make sure you know how to use it, and make sure it’s in workable order. Useful for small contained fires (like a fire in a wastebasket).

Appropriate use: Where the fire is not growing, the room is not filled with smoke, everyone else has safely exited, and the Fire Department has been called. Keep your back to a sure exit. If the room starts to fill with smoke, get out.

Most Important: From the National Fire Protection Association: Know when to go. Fire extinguishers are one element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape.


Disaster Relief Blog:
Find  news and updates on current activities of our Disaster Relief Team.