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.