Preparing for Hurricane Hilary - A Checklist & Resources

Picture of Charlie Cutler

Charlie Cutler

President of ChurchWest Insurance Services


In an event described as nearly unprecedented, California braces for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Hilary. Hilary is the latest hurricane to reach California in an astounding 84 years since the El Cordonazo in 1939. The National Hurricane Center warns of flash flooding and heavy rain across Southern California.

Given the rarity of hurricanes in California, it’s understandable that many residents may find themselves unprepared for an event of this magnitude. Hurricanes, however, are far from uncommon in other parts of the U.S., and as a nation, we’ve accrued a wealth of knowledge and resources to aid in hurricane preparedness and response. In this guide, we aim to equip you with vital information and tools to weather the storm effectively.

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If your church faces significant damage, contact us immediately. We and our trusted providers can streamline the cleanup process and walk you through your claim. In times like these, restoration companies may contact you to sell their services. Unfortunately, these companies may not understand your insurance and could complicate your claim.

For immediate support in the event of a major loss, call our 24/7 hotline at (800) 843-6054. 

A Quick Preparedness Checklist

Given the swift approach of Hurricane Hilary, we’ve condensed the most critical preparedness steps into this concise checklist. These urgent actions address the imminent threat and ensure a quick response by your ministry.

For a more comprehensive breakdown, we recommend reading the resources included in the next section.

Step 1: Secure Your Space

Begin by securing your ministry’s physical space. Close and seal all doors and windows to prevent the entry of rain, wind, and debris. This simple action can significantly minimize potential damage and help maintain a safe indoor environment for your staff and congregation. Remember, sealing any gaps and vulnerabilities is crucial to preventing water infiltration during the storm.

Step 2: Clear the Surroundings

Clear your outdoor surroundings of any loose debris, signage, or unsecured objects. In high winds, these items can transform into dangerous projectiles, posing a threat to your property and anyone nearby. By diligently removing these hazards, you’re taking a proactive step to prevent damage and ensure the safety of your ministry’s vicinity.

Step 3: Secure Outdoor Assets

Umbrellas, outdoor furniture, and other movable items can become vulnerable to the storm’s impact. Safely store these assets indoors to prevent them from being blown away or damaged during the hurricane. This precaution not only preserves your property but also demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a clean and organized ministry environment.

Step 4: Shelter Vehicles

If your ministry owns vehicles, prioritize their protection. Ideally, relocate vehicles to a secure, concrete garage—offering optimal defense against potential flooding and falling debris. In the absence of a garage, park vehicles on elevated ground away from trees and utility lines. Ensuring your vehicles are sheltered safeguards your transportation resources from the hurricane’s potential harm.

Step 5: Prepare Emergency Supplies

Be proactive in equipping your ministry with emergency supplies. Create supply kits that include essentials like water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, first aid materials, and vital documents. Distribute these kits strategically within your facilities so that they are easily accessible to your staff and members in the event of an emergency.

Step 6: Establish Communication Channels

Effective communication is key during any crisis. Establish a comprehensive communication plan that keeps your staff and members informed throughout the hurricane’s progression. Designate a reliable point person or team responsible for disseminating essential updates and instructions, ensuring everyone remains connected and informed.

Step 7: Review Evacuation Plans

Refresh your ministry’s evacuation plans and routes, ensuring that your staff and members are well-aware of the safest paths to take in case of an emergency. Additionally, identify secure areas within your facilities where individuals can find shelter and protection during the storm. By reinforcing these protocols, you enhance your ministry’s ability to respond effectively to adverse conditions.

Additional Resources for Hurricane Preparedness

The following are comprehensive resources provided by other companies specializing in insurance and risk management. 

Insurance Board: Preparing for Hurricane Season

This resource by Insurance Board was written to help ministries prepare for the all too common hurricane season. Included in this resource is a downloadable checklist for basic steps to ensure hurricane preparedness. This includes reviewing emergency response plans, preparing your building and assembling a supply kit. Given the suddenness of Hurricane Hillary, this guide can help you focus on the most immediate action items for preparing your ministry and household.

Click to read the article.

Brotherhood Mutual: Guidelines for Disaster Housing

Churches are crucial in disaster recovery, providing shelter and support. Church leaders must prioritize security to protect their ministry and those they assist. This includes capacity limits, restricted access, capable volunteers, emergency procedures, addressing unlawful activities, and maintaining a safe environment. By implementing these precautions, churches can effectively serve communities during disasters.

Click to read the article.

Glatfelter: Hurricane Preparedness and Response

Building on the prior resource, this interactive checklist provided by Glatfelter Insurance explains in greater depths the steps ministries can take to protect their buildings from high winds. If your ministry has multiple facilities, this checklist includes steps for preparing each building. These steps include shutting doors and windows, moving vehicles to higher ground away from trees, securing loose debris and other action items.

Click to read the article.

N.C. Baptists: How to Minister During a Disaster

Natural disasters can devastate local communities, but the aftermath can be an incredibly rewarding opportunity for local ministry. Churches can play a crucial role in supporting their communities by serving their members, checking on their well-being, and offering assistance to local officials. As mentioned before, churches can also provide shelter, transportation, and guidance in connecting people with additional resources.

Click to read the article.

Nerd Wallet: Complete Guide to Hurricane Insurance

It’s unlikely that many Californians have ever searched for ‘Hurricane Insurance’ on Google. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of Hurricane insurance and the typical coverage offered by homeowners policies. Please note that ChurchWest does not currently offer homeowners insurance, but we believe that many of our ministry friends will find this article to be valuable and informative.

If you have specific questions about your homeowner’s insurance, we recommend contacting your agent or broker.

Click to read the article.


Although hurricanes are rare in California, it is crucial for your ministry to be prepared and manage the associated risks. By following the critical steps outlined in this article, you can effectively defend against the impact of such storms. At ChurchWest, our prayers are with all those who will be affected by this storm, and we trust in the Lord’s guidance to work through his church where assistance is needed in the aftermath.

Charlie Cutler

Charlie Cutler is the President of ChurchWest Insurance Services, a California-based agency that specializes in providing insurance solutions to churches and related ministries. Charlie has been with ChurchWest for over 20 years and has extensive experience in the insurance industry, with a particular focus on the unique risks and challenges facing Christian organizations. Charlie is a sought-after speaker and has presented at numerous conferences and seminars on insurance and risk management topics.

Connect with Charlie on LinkedIn

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