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Lutheran Disaster Response

Hurricane Sandy: One Year Later

nj damage clean up - hurricane sandyOne year ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean and northeastern United States, bringing heavy rain and strong winds. The areas were impacted with widespread flooding and fallen trees, which damaged and destroyed homes and businesses. Areas were without power and heat for several weeks. Water supplies were contaminated and the number of outbreaks of cholera increased.

People like you quickly responded with prayers and financial support to help the church assist our brothers and sisters through their recovery and rebuilding. Through your generous gifts, Lutheran Disaster Response raised more than $4 million to assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery. And because we are a trusted partner, the American Red Cross granted us $1.9 million to support our commitment to assist the millions of people affected by Hurricane Sandy. This grant has enabled us to expand our response efforts.

Working with our partners in the U.S. and in the Caribbean, we have played an active role in the recovery process.

Maryland – Working with Diakon Social Ministries, we have served 81 households, rehabbed 52 homes, helped in the construction of two homes, and have begun construction of six other homes in Maryland. Disaster case managers are matching client needs for counseling, health issues or food support. More than 130 volunteers have given their time and energy to help this community rebuild.

New Jersey – Partnering with Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey(LSM/NJ), we have provided more than 30 unmet-needs grants to help families cover hurricane-related expenses not covered by FEMA or insurance, such as rental assistance and repair costs. A volunteer hosting site at Reformation Lutheran Church, in partnership with Long Branch Covenant Church, has housed more than 125 volunteers, culminating in more than 896 volunteer hours for site support. We also helped bring Camp Noah to New Jersey – a fun and safe environment that has helped more than 90 children heal after Hurricane Sandy.

New York – With Lutheran Social Services of New York, Lutheran Disaster Response is providing case management for more than 260 families to assist them with unmet needs. We’ve also provided lodging for more than 60 volunteers, culminating in more than 1,400 hours of rebuilding in Queens, N.Y.

Cuba – Working with the Cuban Council of Churches, a partnership of 20 Protestant churches, Lutheran Disaster Response provided food security, water, shelter, roof reconstruction and livelihood restoration to more than 1,000 families.

Haiti –In collaboration with The Lutheran World Federation and the Lutheran Church in Haiti, Lutheran Disaster Response worked to drain excess water to help reduce the risk of cholera outbreaks following the hurricane.

Recovery from disaster carries on long after the headlines change, and so does our work. In New York, New Jersey and Maryland, we continue to provide volunteer coordination, home reconstruction management and disaster case managers, who advocate for individual families’ needs.

Please continue to pray for the people and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy as they continue to restore their homes, lives and hope.

New Resource: Hurricane Sandy Situation Report #3

A new situation report giving an update on the situation in the northeastern United States and Caribbean as well as the ELCA’s response is now available. Some of the highlights are the joint Lutheran World Federation-ELCA delegation which visited New York and New Jersey in late November/early December as well as the strong outpouring of support from ELCA members, with donations topping $2.4 million. Please help us spread the word of how the ELCA is engaged in the response and what people can do to help.

Here is a link for your convenience: Hurricane Sandy Situation Report #3 (January 11, 2013)

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond domestically and internationally in times of need. Donate now.

Hurricane Sandy: The Pro-Active Disaster Response

When disasters strike it is not usually with much forewarning. Even when there is it is measured in days or hours. Yet, when disasters happen some of the most crucial work occurs in the immediate days and weeks. Also, how a response effort is begun can have major and sometimes unforeseen consequences down the road. All of this is to say that part of the difficulty in disaster response work is coordination of staff and resources in a timely manner.

Beginning in 2012 that ELCA has been working through our membership in the Lutheran World Federation to help address this issue. This is being accomplished through the establishment of three Emergency Response hubs in areas of the world prone to disaster. One of these is located in San Salvador, El Salvador and was called into action following Hurricane Sandy. Four members of the Emergency Response hub were able, in part through the gifts to ELCA Disaster Response, to travel to Cuba to help them coordinate their disaster response efforts by assisting with staffing, damage assessment and next steps.

In the long run, this work will probably not be noticed. Yet, these seemingly small and quiet actions will have a positive and lasting affect on the response in Cuba. And they will continue to be a hallmark of how our church understands its role, as we work to promote disaster preparedness and mitigation, usually behind the scenes helping where the need is, whether or not its highlighted by a media spotlight.

I thought as we prepare to remember another one of those quiet, in the background, actions that had a major impact, it would be good to highlight this great aspect of our work. May God bless us all during this Advent season and call us to remember those actions and people who dwell in the background, that they too are blessed.

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond domestically and internationally in times of need. Donate now.