Lucy Jones

[Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society] Dr. Lucy Jones and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles are set to premiere a process to improve post-disaster communication, allowing faith-based institutions to better help their members.

On Sunday, Oct. 15, seismologist Jones will lead an earthquake drill at St. James’ Episcopal Church in South Pasadena to demonstrate an essential post-disaster communication process developed in conjunction with the diocese. Over the last year, several member churches across greater Los Angeles have been developing the Climate Connections Program to help congregations prepare for natural disasters, which are increasing due to climate change.

The program to increase community resilience in faith-based institutions was developed by the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society with support from the Southern California Edison Foundation.

“If an organization wants to help after a disaster, they need to know who needs help,” said Jones, founder and chief scientist of the namesake nonprofit. “To connect with each other after a disaster is the first step in disaster resilience.”

The pilot program involves six churches of the diocese. All will be conducting a communication drill on Oct. 15. The Climate Connections program, which includes the communication drill, is available on the center’s website here.

The earthquake drill will occur at approximately 11:25, just after the conclusion of the Sunday service. Jones will signal the start of the exercise by announcing an earthquake has struck, at which time parishioners will take protective actions in the church’s pews. The congregation will simulate safety procedures, which include dropping to the ground. Jones will then announce the earthquake has stopped, at which time the gathered crowd will evacuate the building to a designated area — in this case, the nearby parking lot. The ushers have been trained to assist after a disaster and will help everyone get outside, including those who are mobility impaired.

In phase two of the drill, parishioners will be contacted via text to determine their safety. These messages will be sent to church members, both those present and those absent from the service. This communication chain is designed to be used after any disaster and will allow church leaders to create a preliminary report on the status of their congregation’s safety. The third phase will be text communications between the cohort congregations.

The entire drill will take approximately 15 minutes.

As one of the world’s most recognizable seismologists, Dr. Lucy Jones has a unique talent for making even the most complicated scientific concepts accessible to all audiences. In her 33 years as a seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, she was deployed after earthquakes to comfort, counsel, and inform a rattled public. Through decades of research and advocacy for risk reduction, she has dramatically changed how Californians prepare for and react to disasters. Learn more here.