Disasters

The earth and her creatures are besieged by storms and fire in our own country and around the world.  Those who are dealing with disasters directly are overwhelmed either with preparing for coming storms or fires, or cleaning up and recovering from storms and fires.  Those safe from disasters are also overwhelmed by images of destruction and loss and wonder how to respond to so much tragedy.

It’s important that we not let the enormity of tragedy cause us to throw up our hands and do nothing.  We can be aware and acknowledge the tragedy affecting people and let them know we are holding them in prayer.  Those experiencing disasters other than Hurricane Harvey may feel that they are being ignored and abandoned and just knowing that they are not alone can make a big difference.

The best way to help is to give a financial gift to Lutheran Disaster Response.

Lutheran Disaster Response partners with local organizations to meet both immediate and long term needs.  100% of your gifts go to disaster relief.  You can designate a particular disaster or have it designated for what is needed most.  Also, many of the synods below have disaster funds.

Unless you have a specific request from an organization ON THE SCENE, PLEASE DO NOT SEND MATERIAL ITEMS.  There is no capacity to store the items and if they have not been requested they are not needed.  When unsolicited materials are sent, it becomes a burden, as victims and volunteers must now arrange to either store or haul away unwanted items.

Pastor Mark Anderson tells of when there was flooding in Charles City in 1999 a truck showed up (in June) and dumped off winter coats.  “We had to pay to have all those coats taken away.”

Also, please do not show up unannounced to volunteer.  When you show up without an invitation you become another burden on victims and relief workers. The Texas Gulf Synod has shared some organizations you can sign up with for volunteer opportunities:

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast on August 25, threatening millions of people with multiple days of heavy rain, winds, and rising tides. While many have evacuated, significant damage is still expected, and thousands of people may be housed in shelters for an extended period of time.

Texas Gulf Coast Synod 12941 I-45 North Freeway #210, Houston, Texas 77060-1243

The Rev. Michael Rinehart, Bishop

How to Help

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

Help us respond by donating to the Synod Disaster Fund (please specify “Harvey” in the line provided).

Support the work of Lutheran Disaster Response, working to provide immediate and long-lasting support.

Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, 680 Copper Canyon Rd, Argyle, Texas

The Rev. Erik Gronberg, Bishop

There are many ways you can assist in the recovery of our neighbors here in Texas and Louisiana. First and foremost, please include petitions in worship for the people of the gulf coast, the congregations, pastors, lay leaders, and bishops Tiemann and Rinehart.

As always, donations to Lutheran Disaster Response are an efficient way to get funds into the hands of local organizations helping individuals on the ground.

Additionally, you can support congregations who are rebuilding damaged property by giving to the disaster relief funds of either the Southwestern Texas Synod or the Gulf Coast Synod. One thing to note, please do not send any in-kind donations unless you have verified a need and logistics.

Southwestern Texas Synod, 1090 Oestreich Drive, Seguin, TX 78155-3403

Rev. Dr. Ray Tiemann, Bishop

The hardest hit areas – Port Aransas, Rockport, Port Lavaca, Refugio, Victoria – are still in search and recovery to varying degrees. Electricity and water are still out in many places, roads are blocked by debris, and law enforcement is greatly limiting anyone in those areas. We need to let the infrastructure return before systems are in place to help. Many of our pastoral leaders evacuated those areas and will not return until later this week.

How to Help:

If you want to help with pastoral/congregational support so synod ministries can return to serving their neighborhoods, a gift to the Southwestern Texas Synod, marked “Hurricane Harvey,” is welcomed. Such funds will be provided to pastors in congregations for their emergency use.

If you want to help more long term, consider gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response. They will be dealing with case management of the recovery, helping people get repairs, resettled, etc. They are wonderful partners in the church.

If you want to help through a local agency, Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services) provides the local help with disasters in connection with Lutheran Disaster Response, VOAD, and other agencies.We depend upon them greatly for their expertise and local proximity.

Wild Fires in the West

Currently, there are more than 74 major wildfires burning in 8 western states including Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and California

Montana Synod 3125 5th Ave. S., Great Falls, MT 59405,

The Rev. Jessica Crist, Bishop

We breathed a sigh of relief and said prayers of thanks as the fire in Garfield County was extinguished. Fires continue to rage in the western part of the state and communities are threatened in several counties including Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Granite.

How can you help?

Please keep all victims and responders to the fires in your prayers. Pray for safety and rest for all; pray for weather favorable for controlling the fires; pray for help for those losing property in the fires.

Montana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster), chaired by LPA Dick Deschamps, has been keeping close watch on the Montana fires, from the range fires in the eastern part of the state to the forest fires in the west.

We have also been in conversation with synods in North and South Dakota, and with ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response about drought and possible donations of hay from the Midwest.

The Montana Synod maintains a disaster fund, available to those experiencing disaster. It is made up entirely of congregational and individual contributions. You can send checks to the Synod Office

Note that donations are for the Disaster Fund.To donate by credit card, please go to the Montana Synod website at http://www.montanasynod.org and follow the ‘DONATE’ button at the bottom of the home page. You may designate the Disaster Fund.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico hard, leaving 900,000 residents without power and 50,000 without water.  Nearly every building on the island of Barbuda was destroyed, leaving 1400 people homeless.  As of this writing, the storm was headed toward Florida.

Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Sinodo del Caribe – Caribbean Synod 694 Km 2.0 Bo Maguayo Dorado, Dorado, Puerto Rico 00646

From Rev. Felipe Lozada Montañez; Bishop of the Caribbean Synod

Greetings and blessings to all and all.

The passage of Hurricane Irma has become a complex and educational process for us. Puerto Rico did not suffer from direct hurricane attacks although some areas were affected by various situations; including the synod office. For our brothers in the Virgin Islands, the story was different. Initial reports identify areas with multiple damages, as well as flooding.

It is important that we join in prayer throughout the Caribbean and the regions that are missing from being impacted so that God will spread his hand over all and all. We will be identifying the aid and answers that we can offer to the victims of the island and the Virgin Islands.

Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands provides immediate and long term relief to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in times of major disasters. Response support is activated to coordinate relief throughout the Territory, including emergency shelter, counseling, food delivery and home reconstruction. Donate here to support Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands.

Florida-Bahamas Synod, 3838 West Cypress Street, Tampa, FL 33607

Rev. Marcus Lohrmann, Bishop

Assistant to the Bishop Michele Hilton has been on conference calls with the Florida VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) – all state, federal, inter-faith and nonprofit agencies are as deployed and prepared as they can be. She has also been in good communication with Lutheran Disaster Response in Chicago. They are ready to support us however we need it, and we are already coordinating a joint prayer service between the chapel in the Synod House and the chapel in the ELCA Churchwide office in Chicago for the days ahead. We will share information about that as it becomes available.

It looks like Hurricane Irma will most directly impact Florida on Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Donations made to the synod-wide disaster response fund are used 100% for needs caused by disasters. This is also the fund through which we can support our companion churches who may be impacted. Designated donations to “Hurricane Irma disaster response” can be mailed to the synod office.

Lutheran Services Florida Disaster Response brings immediate aid and ongoing assistance to help people rebuild their homes and their lives. In the short term, LSF ensures that communities aren’t abandoned following the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. In the long term, the organization helps in the recovery effort with our neighbors. Donate here to support Lutheran Services Florida.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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