ELCA NEWS SERVICE
November 2, 2012
ELCA provides, receives aid following Hurricane Sandy
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) continue to meet the immediate needs of people affected by Hurricane Sandy and its subsequent storms with food, water and shelter as damage assessments continue from the Caribbean to the northern Atlantic coast of the United States.
Through ELCA Disaster Response, "we are in contact with (ELCA) synods, congregations and affiliate organizations located in areas impacted by the storm," according to the Rev. Michael Stadie, director for domestic disaster response at ELCA churchwide ministries. "We have heard that ELCA congregations were damaged, but we are waiting to share the information until we have a more complete list."
Stadie said his office is receiving stories about the engagement of ELCA members, spanning from cleanup work to providing pastoral care, from distributing meals to offering shelter. "That is the work of ELCA Disaster Response," he said.
The ELCA is also receiving letters of support, expressions of sympathy and prayers from Lutheran churches overseas, according to the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for global mission at ELCA churchwide ministries. The general secretary of the All Africa Council of Churches has sent letters of support to the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation, through its Department for World Service, has pledged its commitment to support the ELCA in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.
This is the first time the ELCA will be a recipient of international aid from The Lutheran World Federation, said Malpica Padilla.
The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 143 member churches in 79 countries all over the world. The ELCA is the federation's only member church from the United States.
The prayers and pledge for international aid "is a sign of what it means to live in communion," said Malpica Padilla. "It is a sign of the unity of this community, and how we are not only a donor or a giver but that we are the recipient of expertise, prayers, concerns, accompaniment and friendship from our global companions, who have seen the devastation in the United States.
"It is a good feeling to know that we are not alone, that we are not only the supplier of things for the world but that we live in a true communion," he said. "We, too, are vulnerable, and we are comforted that others have come to lift us up and walk with us to rebuild people's lives."
In the ELCA's response to Cuba, funds from ELCA Disaster Response are supporting the deployment of technical specialists to conduct damage assessments, design a disaster response strategy and offer training in the areas of water management, emergency shelter and more. About 15,000 homes were destroyed and 75,000 people were rendered homeless in Cuba.
In Haiti, the ELCA continues to partner with the Lutheran Church of Haiti in disaster response work. In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, more than 17,000 families evacuated to emergency shelters.
Megan Bradfield, director for international disaster response at ELCA churchwide ministries, was in Haiti as Hurricane Sandy struck there.
"I can offer a personal witness to how water can cause a lot of destruction, particularly in Haiti's context. A few hours of rain can have a significant impact on people and land, and part of the impact includes the spread of diseases like cholera," said Bradfield. In 2011, "We began a program with our partner church in Haiti on cholera response, which reached more than a half-million people with education and awareness-building. That project continues today, with renewed emphasis following Hurricane Sandy," she said.
Bradfield also reported that the "model village" project led by The Lutheran World Federation and supported by the ELCA did not sustain damage by Hurricane Sandy. The village will provide housing for people displaced by an earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.
"Right now there are 100 houses erected, and the blessing in the curse (of Hurricane Sandy) is that the foundation and walls of the housing structures are intact. Roofs have not been added, yet. Fortunately, Haiti did not have the impact of high winds from Hurricane Sandy, only the impact of water. So the site itself was not impacted," said Bradfield, adding that the homes are built on high land and engineered to sustain high winds.
Information about ELCA Disaster Response is available at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster. View the video message from the ELCA presiding bishop at http://youtu.be/xrsGUUgU7YM.
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 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