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Lutheran Disaster Response

Situation Report: May Tornadoes

A map of the United States with South Dakota and Minnesota highlighted.Situation:

On the night of May 30, a series of storms, including tornadoes, swept through the Central Great Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley. In Minnesota, heavily affected communities included Eagle Bend, Clarissa and Browerville, where over 100 buildings were damaged. In South Dakota, a tornado impacted the area around the city of Brandon, severely damaging Beaver Valley Lutheran Church in Valley Springs.

 

 

A hallway destroyed by a tornado. Caption: Beaver Valley Lutheran ChurchResponse:

Lutheran Disaster Response is accompanying both the Northwestern Minnesota Synod and the South Dakota Synod as they respond to the tornadoes. The Northwestern Minnesota Synod will provide basic necessities to impacted community members in the Eagle Bend area. The South Dakota Synod is working with Beaver Valley Lutheran Church to assess its physical damage and begin rebuilding and recovery efforts. The grant from Lutheran Disaster Response will be used for storage units and office supplies to inform people of the changes to upcoming community events and worship services.

 

 

 

Be part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the tornadoes in South Dakota and Minnesota. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Tornadoes) will be used entirely  (100%) to assist tornado survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Situation Report: Mass Shootings in the U.S.

Buffalo, NY

Situation:

On May 14, a mass shooting occurred in a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. 10 people were killed and three others were injured in the racially-motivated attack.

Response:

The Upstate New York Synod, with support from Lutheran Disaster Response, is partnering with VOICE Buffalo, an organization addressing peace, reconciliation, and trauma counseling. The synod will hire a coordinator to work on a new-start mission with VOICE Buffalo, called “Community of Good Neighbors.”

From the ELCA’s statement on the mass shooting: “Our hearts grieve for those who have been killed and our souls cry out against more lives lost to the hatred birthed by racism. As we mourn those lives lost as a result of the racially motivated killings in Buffalo, we ask God to ease the continued suffering and trauma of our Black siblings throughout the nation and in our church. We are one body in Christ, so when one part suffers, we all suffer.”

Uvalde, TX

Situation:

On May 24, a mass shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. 19 students and two adults lost their lives. This is the deadliest school shooting in the United States since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Response:

Lutheran Disaster Response is accompanying the Southwest Texas Synod, in which Uvalde is located. The synod can use the solidarity grant to provide emotional and spiritual care to the Uvalde community through ELCA chaplains and other clergy, offer financial support for funeral services and participate in prayer and healing activities.

From the ELCA’s statement on the school shooting: “We reaffirm our commitment in calling for greater gun safety, including preventing easy access to assault-style weapons and strengthening our federal system of background checks for all gun sales. As people of faith, we hold on to our belief in caring for our neighbors and striving for justice and peace in all the earth.”

Be a part of the response:

Pray

Please pray for people who have been affected by the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Advocate

These shootings call our attention, yet again, to the urgent need to pass legislation that would strengthen background checks for those purchasing deadly weapons in our nation. Action is possible, but our voices are needed now. Call your senator today at 202-224-3121, ask for your senator and urge them to pass bipartisan legislation to expand and require background checks for all gun purchases in our country.

 

Give

Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR-US) will be used to assist the impacted communities.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.

A Recap of the National VOAD Conference

On May 2-5, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, National VOAD, held its annual conference in Baltimore, MD. Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) is a National VOAD member and has been a strong player in the VOAD movement.

National VOAD is a coalition of community-based, faith-based and nonprofit disaster response organizations throughout the United States. Its purpose is to serve as a forum in which organizations can coordinate responses. In addition to the more than 70 national member organizations, there are also VOADs at the state and local levels.

The National VOAD Conference consists of various plenary sessions, interactive workshops, networking opportunities, meals and vendor exhibitions. Due to the pandemic, 2022 was the first year since 2019 that the conference took place in-person and it brought together over 700 participants. On May 4, LDR hosted a dinner to create a space for LDR partners to connect. This year, 19 people representing 13 LDR network partners were present. At the VOAD National Conference Annual Award Dinner, a number of LDR network members were recognized for their work in disaster response:

 

Representatives from the Pathways Program accept their award.

Innovative Program of the Year – Miami Valley (Ohio) Long-Term Recovery Operations Group Tornado Survivor Pathway to Home Ownership

 

The Innovative Program of the Year is awarded to a local, regional, state or territory VOAD or a VOAD member organization for exceptional innovation or ingenuity through the development and implementation of a program or project that has:

  1. Provided a long‐term solution to a specific community’s problem utilizing one of the Four C’s of National VOAD (collaboration, cooperation, communication, coordination); or
  2. Created a unique project or program that filled a gap or unmet need in a community in preparing for, responding to, and/or recovering from disasters that positively impacted the lives of victims and could be replicated as a model for other communities.

 

This program helps families who lost their homes during the Miami Valley tornadoes in May 2019. The Pathways Program builds homes on donated property and renters are given the opportunity to learn how to prepare a mortgage and buy the new homes at market rates, benefiting both the new homeowners and the community. The proceeds are then used to fund the building of the next home. LDR is supporting this program through a grant to County Corp, one of the partners in the project.

 

Julia Menzo and Jean Peercy with their awards.

State/Territory VOAD of the Year – Pennsylvania VOAD

This award is presented to one of the State/Territorial VOADs that, in the past year, has:

  1. Demonstrated the promotion of optimal effectiveness of voluntary organizations in preparing for, responding to, and/or recovering from disasters;
  2. Increased the growth and strength of the VOAD Movement in their State or Territory; and
  3. Made extraordinary progress in advancing one or more of the Core Four C’s of the VOAD movement.

 

Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (PA VOAD) received the National VOAD State/Territory VOAD of the Year Award. Julia Menzo, PA VOAD Vice President, LDR-PA Coordinator, and LDR Eastern Region Facilitator accepted the award along with a team of PA VOAD partners. Starting in 2017 the PA VOAD members worked effectively to support Americans who were forced to evacuate Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. PA VOAD has also assisted with the resettlement of Afghan evacuees and are now preparing to assist refugees from Ukraine who have been displaced due to the war. PA VOAD members are also responding to Hurricane Isaias and Hurricane Ida, along with several other low-attention, undeclared disasters.

One such response is in Eastwick, PA. A predominantly Black community. It has faced major flooding over the years, most recently from Tropical Storm Isaias, with little government support to address the underlying issues that make the area so vulnerable to flood damage. LDR-PA is currently working in the community to address unmet needs and advocate for help from the city of Philadelphia. A story about the Eastwick response can be found on p. 10 of the Fall 2021 issue of LifeLines.

Julia’s leadership and willingness to work alongside others has strengthened the PA VOAD, including LDR’s ability to reach underserved communities. Julia and the PA VOAD have walked alongside these community leaders as they recover after a disaster and become better prepared for future events.

 

Jean Peercy receives the Spirit Award.

Spirit Award – Jean Peercy, LDR

The Spirit Award is presented annually to an individual, typically a paid staff member, who, in the past year, exhibited outstanding commitment to service, the Four C’s and the VOAD Movement and has:

 

  1. Exemplified the core purpose of the VOAD Movement by promoting and practicing National VOAD’s core principles of Cooperation, Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration; and/or,
  2. Facilitated increased support of the VOAD movement by developing and maintaining partnerships between voluntary organizations; and/or,
  3. Embodied the passion, dedication, and professionalism of the VOAD Movement.

 

Jean Peercy is one of the longest tenured and most experienced LDR representatives in the United States and has served disaster-impacted communities in nearly every state and multiple U.S. territories. She has also served in leadership roles in various National VOAD committees, most recently multiple terms as the Chair of the Long-Term Recovery Group Committee. Jean facilitates trainings on topics ranging from muck and gut of disaster damaged dwellings to volunteer management, construction coordination and long-term recovery group development. With her spouse, Dale, “the Peercys” as they are affectionately known, have earned a reputation of being strong and willing support for communities and VOAD partners across the country.

About this award, Jean said “To receive the VOAD Spirit Award is very humbling, especially considering the individuals and agencies that I work with that are involved in the VOAD movement illustrating that spirit every day in their service to others.”

 

National VOAD Member of the Year – Church World Service

The National VOAD Member of the Year is awarded to one of the National Member Agencies that, in the past year:

  1. Exemplified the core purpose of the VOAD movement, which is to promote Cooperation, Communication, Coordination and Collaboration among voluntary organizations active in disasters within the United States and its territories, and practiced those values;
  2. Facilitated relationships between voluntary organizations and other public and private entities engaged in all phases of disaster planning, response, recovery and mitigation; and
  3. Demonstrated extraordinary support for the mission, goals, and activities of National VOAD.

 

Church World Service is a longtime partner of LDR. Currently, LDR is supporting CWS’ response in western Kentucky. As written in a CWS press release, “When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban last August, CWS was one of the core agencies that helped thousands of Afghans start new lives in the United States. CWS’ VOAD partners mobilized to support and welcome these new arrivals. A few months later, CWS was one of the National VOAD members responding to the deadly tornadoes in Kentucky. The CWS response continues to assist unaccompanied migrant children who were living with families in the Mayfield area through support from local, trusted community service groups. CWS facilitated immediate support for their food, rent, utilities and home repairs and continues to provide long-term financial assistance to impacted immigrant households through the recovery stage.”

 

These awards demonstrate the scope and depth of disaster response work associated with LDR. Yet, this is only a fraction of where LDR is active within the United States. In 2021, LDR was present in 17 states and territories with a range of projects from preparedness and resilience to immediate relief and long-term recovery. We are grateful for the work of our partners and will continue to accompany them through all phases of disaster response.

 

 

 

 

 

Situation Report: Texas-Louisiana Tornadoes

Situation:

On March 21-22, a storm system moved through several southern states, including Texas and Louisiana. It spawned multiple tornadoes, including an EF-3 tornado in Arabi, La., which killed one and damaged dozens of homes.

 

 

Response:

The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, with support from Lutheran Disaster Response, is addressing immediate needs for those impacted by the storms. In Arabi, Gethsemane Lutheran Church-Chalmette is coordinating with other organizations to distribute food supplies and expects the need for its own food pantry to grow. The church’s preschool is also welcoming in students from a nearby preschool that was damaged in the storms.

 

 

 

Be a part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the tornadoes in Texas and Louisiana. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Tornadoes) will be used entirely  (100%) to assist tornado survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Situation Report: Kentucky Tornadoes

Situation

On the night of Dec. 10, a devastating outbreak of more than 30 tornadoes swept through six states. Kentucky was impacted the most, with more than 80 people reported dead and 1,300 homes destroyed.

Disaster survivors often seek FEMA assistance, but undocumented households may not be eligible and may have fears about seeking help from government or community resources due to the possibility of deportation, discrimination or other forms of retaliation.

 

 

 

Response

Church World Service, with support from Lutheran Disaster Response, is providing financial support for undocumented families who are unable to receive federal aid. CWS will respond to acute needs for resources and financial assistance and short-term community integration goals to promote the safety and stability of children and their families in the aftermath of the disaster. Additionally, Lutheran Disaster Response and the Indiana-Kentucky Synod are collaborating with Kentucky VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to assist in the development of long-term recovery operations.

 

 

 

Be a part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the tornadoes in Kentucky. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Tornadoes) will be used in full (100%) to assist tornado survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Situation Report: Colorado Wildfires

Situation

On Dec. 30, the Marshall Fire ignited in Boulder County, Colo. Over 6,200 acres burned quickly, forcing the evacuations of 35,000 people. The fire spread throughout suburban neighborhoods, destroying nearly 1,000 homes. While December wildfires are rare, the severe drought in the western United States created hazardous conditions that allowed the Marshall Fire to spread rapidly. This unusual fire is one of the impacts of a changing climate and will become increasingly more common.

Response

The Rocky Mountain Synod is collaborating with pastors and congregations impacted by the fires to develop a coordinated response and mobilize resources for communities. Lutheran Disaster Response, the Rocky Mountain Synod and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains will continue to accompany impacted communities during the years of recovery ahead.

 

 

 

Be a part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the wildfires in Colorado. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Wildfires) will be used in full (100%) to assist wildfire survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.