ELCA NEWS SERVICE
October 31, 2012
ELCA Disaster Response begins relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and its subsequent storms, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson said that the 4.2 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is "in prayer and will respond generously and work tirelessly to rebuild lives, congregations and communities."
In an Oct. 31 video, Hanson, presiding bishop of the church, said the recovery work will not be done alone. "Through ELCA Disaster Response, we will join with our congregations, affiliates and other partners in our shared commitment to restore communities. As we have shown in past disasters, we stay until the work is done. That is the ELCA's commitment."
Some ELCA congregations along the U.S. Atlantic coast have reported damage. In the Caribbean, the storm has caused an estimated $88 million worth of damage to Cuba's second largest province and taken the lives of 11 people. In Haiti, 51 people have been reported dead and severe flooding has damaged roads, homes and farmland.
"In the face of this horrific storm the church is present in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean for relief, to rebuild and to renew the lives of those who have stood in the path of destruction," said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.
"The church's work in these times benefit from our experience in disaster response, having already been present and prepared," said Rift. "Gifts given previously to ELCA Disaster Response enabled us to support the prepositioning of supplies in the Caribbean. That means we are already at work in bringing aid."
While much of the damage on the east coast of the United States still needs to be assessed, many ELCA synod offices closed early in anticipation of the storm. After losing electricity on Monday night, the Rev. Claire Burkat, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, reported that "it might be days until (the power) comes back" and that it was "too dangerous for utility and Internet providers to work."
"Communication and collaboration among our faith partners has been swift and effective," Burkat reported. "We pray that the Lord of Sea and Sky will continue to be with and protect those people and living creatures who are at risk from the wind, rain and flooding due to this massive storm."
In hard-hit New Jersey, the Rev. Roy Riley, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod, was optimistic. "We were blessed to have the weekend for families and communities to make preparations. In our congregations, there were reminders on Sunday to remember the most vulnerable and check in with them as possible before and during the storm."
"In the past few years this synod's congregations have sent response teams to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Upstate New York, and places closer to home," Riley stated. "We should know the drill by now. Nevertheless, we are hoping for the best possible outcome but recognizing the significant challenges that lie ahead."
The ELCA has a long history of responding quickly and generously to natural disasters.
"The ferocity of this storm invites a response similar to that mounted over six years ago to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Rift. "In New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, we have recent experience in coordinating repair and cleanup after floods last year. We expect to continue and reactivate programs and to expand this work in other states where the storm continues to progress."
"Gifts can be directed for the work in the United States, Caribbean or for either locations as needed most," said Rift. "In all cases, 100 percent of gifts for the Hurricane Sandy response will be directed for response."
View the video message from the ELCA presiding bishop at http://youtu.be/xrsGUUgU7YM. Information about ELCA Disaster Response is available at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster.
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com