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Lutheran Disaster Response

The Lutheran Church of Australia responds to Queensland Floods

Flood waters continue in the Australian state of Queensland.  The Lutheran Church of Australia is responding to those in need.  You may be interested in checking out the Australia Floods video produced by the Lutheran Church of Australia.  Check out the ELCA Disaster Website

Lutheran Church of Australia office in Queensland.

to see more information on LCA’s response and ways to contribute.  I am also including in this post a letter from LCA pastor James Haak who lives in a community devistated by the floods…

Just a few words to update you with how things are in the Lockyer Valley.

At the end of the week, most of the waters have now receded below minor flood levels and people are commencing the difficult task of cleaning up. In the eastern end of the valley in Laidley and surrounding areas such as Forest Hill, getting rid of the mud and silt that entered homes and drying things out has become a priority. The Laidley manse did have water enter the garage, but not the manse itself. In the western areas, the town of Grantham and its environs still remains a no go area. Police still have the area declared a crime scene as they, the SES, and the military continue the task of searching for bodies in the flood debris. Many of the parish who live in the Grantham and Helidon areas were affected in some way by flooding. I know of one parish member whose house has been totally lost with many more in the parish having lost all or some of their possessions to the waters. Cleaning up is only part of the story as it will take many months for farmers to begin receiving an income again. We are grateful that, to date, it appears that the Lutheran community has been spared any loss of life, but in such a small community as Grantham, many personally know one or more of those who have died.

For those of us who were spared flooding, the worse thing remains the inconvenience as many roads remain closed and even basic necessities such as bread, milk and fuel are in short supply. Local supermarkets are still restricting quantities of the necessities that people can purchase.

We thank our God for your expressions of care and support during this difficult time, and are grateful that we have been spared from an even worse disaster.

In Christ,
Pastor James Haak

Remembering Haiti: One Year After

One year after the earthquake people join together in religious meetings across the country. Photo: ACT/Paul Jeffrey

This morning I woke and took fifteen minutes to think about the last year, its successes and challenges, moments to remember both good and bad, and the hopefulness found through it all.  I think it is important that we all see ourselves as participants in this effort.  Through the sharing of our gifted resources, taking moments in silence to pray in solidarity with those who continue to struggle in Haiti, sharing information and stories to one another to continue to build awareness on the issues facing Haiti, contributing your skills and expertise through volunteerism; all these contributions manifests a community participating in the renewal of hope and livelihoods in Haiti.

I can not put into words the overwhelming feeling of frustration and pain felt when conditions don’t seem to improve.  While relief efforts were quick to respond to emergency needs, recovery efforts have been slow to start; housing is still a daily struggle for hundreds of thousands of families that are still displaced and living in camps. Yet, Haitian colleagues, who have themselves suffered loss, are dedicated to the work they do for their fellow citizens and continue to persevere with rebuilding efforts.

I see hopefulness in changes seen.  Children have returned to school, signaling the strengthening of Haiti’s next generation of leadership and workers.  People are back to work, earning a wage to provide for their families and beginning the work of rebuilding their own lives.

So, on this anniversary day, I want to extend gratitude for all the gifts that have been shared and challenge you to continue to find ways to contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti.  Years of work remains ahead of us as Haiti continues to recover from the earthquake and addresses conditions of poverty.

I also invite each of you to hold a minute of silence to honor the victims of the 2010 earthquake at 4:34 pm (Haitian time), exactly one year from when the earthquake struck.

God’s Peace,


Haiti in Numbers

The ACT Alliance has published a consolidated fact sheet on Haiti, providing statistical information on the earthquake in 2010.  The ELCA is a member of the global ACT Alliance which brings together over 100 actors in humanitarian aid and development.  The one statistic that is still under dispute is the loss of lives; sources report between 230,000 and 250,000.

7.0……………… strength of January 12 2010 earthquake on Richter scale

230 000……….. people lost their lives – at least

1.5 million…….. people with no permanent home today

1.3 million…….. people living in makeshift camps today

2 million……….. people living in the most affected area of Port au Prince

250,000……….. homes destroyed in capital

30,000…………. commercial buildings destroyed in capital

90………………. percentage of buildings in the city of Léogâne that were destroyed

1,100………….. camps built over the past year, 54 of which have been home to 5,000 people or more

500…………….. camps in Port au Prince today

15,000………… primary schools severely damaged or destroyed

1,500………….. secondary schools severely damaged or destroyed

20 million m3.. quantity of rubble and debris remaining in Port au Prince: enough to fill a solid line of shipping containers stretching from London to Beirut

1……………….. approved dumping site for rubble in the country (at Varreux in Port-au-Prince)

Pakistan: Images of Flooding in Swat

These photos were taken in one of the worst-affected areas of Swat where ACT member CWS is working. The journey is possible by vehicle in only some locations while for other segments it is necessary to travel by foot. Click to view images of key areas where ACT members are working.

Pakistan: Water rose a meter a minute

Water rose a meter a minute, said Nazer is sitting in front of his tent, his face like a mask of stone. The 50 year old father of four still cannot believe what happened. Within just four or five minutes, the flood levels in his village in northwest Pakistan rose up to four metres. The young man sitting beside him, Mujahid Gul, looks around at the village – or what remains of it – and says people are happy simply to have survived.

Massive rain since the end of July has caused Pakistan’s worst floods. The village of Zareen Abad with its 500 houses is still under water. Said Nazer and the other inhabitants settled on higher ground on the brink of the village. In the graveyard, they live in tents and under plastic sheeting.

Under no circumstances do they want to leave their village. Instead, they want to start clearing the debris as soon as possible. But before they can start, the water has to completely drain. For that, flood victims need pumps and generators. As Nauman Shah, coordinator of ACT Alliance member Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, says, this should happen as soon as possible. Otherwise, the water will destroy the brick houses totally.

Although his house is at the brink of the village and still partly under water, Shah Saeed has already started repairing the roof. The father of five cannot just sit and wait. Underneath, household goods, including mattresses and furniture, are rotting in the water. Gone also are the villagers’ cattle. Nearly all buffalo, goats and hens are dead, Nauman says. He believes the number of dead people could rise to 1000 in Nowshera district alone. Some of the still-flooded houses must contain bodies, he believes.

Also in the neighbouring village of Pashtoon Gari, the river Kabul, which has flooded most of the low-lying land, brought destruction with it. Water 4m high ran through the village and left devastation. Fagir Sheer, a 30 year old labourer, is trying to salvage some of his belongings from the mud and debris. But there is not much that he can use anymore. How he will manage to rebuild his house, in which he was living with his mother and brother, he has no clue.

Fagir Sheer, as with many other villagers, is still in shock. Daily labourers like himself have lost their work because the fields around the village are totally covered by water. A field with sugar cane, for example, is totally devastated. Most fields are still under water. In some places, the remains of cattle lie in the water. Sometimes when it is too hot, the smell is very bad. For four days the water stayed 4m high, says Abdul Saboor Khan. Out of 1700 houses, 400 were totally destroyed. Most of the others are damaged. He is glad that Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe and its local partners are supporting the villagers. The need for help is immense, judging by the extent of destruction.

By Rainer Lang, DKH-ACT

A cycle of loss and destruction is testing Pakistan’s resilience

Of the current situation in Pakistan, Pakistan-based staff members of Church World Service offer the following reflection:

In the five years since the 2005 earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan, not one year has gone by in which the people of Pakistan have not suffered from disaster. The years 2006 and 2007 brought floods; although not even close to the destruction brought by this year’s floods, people still lost their lives, homes, crops and livestock.

In 2008, a powerful earthquake rendered thousands homeless in Balochistan at the onset of winter. In 2009, millions of people were displaced by the conflict between the Pakistan military and militants in Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Waziristan.

Throughout these years, severe drought and water shortages plagued the agricultural communities, which constantly live with the reality of food insecurity. Now, 2010, a year that was supposed to be a time of new beginnings and the continued road to recovery of previous disasters, has turned into a record-breaking year for flood destruction and not just in one province, but throughout the entire country.

Resilient is a word often used to describe the people of Pakistan, but this cycle of loss and destruction is truly testing this attribute. Thousands of people have been living in pre-fabricated shelters still trying to regain their lives and livelihoods lost five years ago.

Entire communities began to experience rebirth but now these very same people must start over again after the floodwaters are gone. Displaced persons, many who have only recently returned home to Swat and other areas, once again find themselves without homes and property. Farmers who were already struggling with food insecurity have lost or may lose this year’s harvest, thus, pushing them farther away from achieving food security for their families.

Undoubtedly the floods have caused widespread damage to agricultural and crop lands, adding further threats of food insecurity to flood-affected families. Particularly affected are the crop lands in the province of Punjab, known as the breadbasket of Pakistan – thereby exacerbating the problems facing the country. As sources of food supply remain underwater, families face the possibility of not being able to harvest and sow their crops. Worsening the situation — increased prices for essentials like sugar.

What is most worrisome is the harsh test of time, and a cycle of never-ending disasters: Flood-affected families in Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balakot had already experienced massive devastation in the 2005 South Asian earthquake.

“People in the affected areas are most vulnerable and they had hardly managed to get their lives back together after the earthquake. Again everything they had is taken away from them,” said Dennis Joseph, associate director of the CWS program in Pakistan. “At this moment it is not just their material well-being but also their physical well-being, which includes their mental well-being that is important.”

Dennis shared the story of Mehr Nisar, a 50-year-old widow from Punda Balla Village. She told Joseph: “I lost my husband in the earthquake, and I was living in a [pre-fabricated] shelter with my son after that. This has now been destroyed as half of the land under the shelter was washed away.”