By Sarah Schafer
Even as the remnant of Hurricane Isaac brought heavy rainfall and strong wind to the East Coast late Tuesday, Sept. 4, the LCMS continued to take stock of its damages and reach out with mercy to those affected.
At Concordia College Alabama in Selma, Ala., two dormitories had minor flooding and 70 students were relocated to a local hotel. Classes were cancelled for the day when nearby roads were closed due to flooding.
“As far as the water goes, we’re letting the drains do their work, and the custodial and maintenance staff will be responsible for cleaning up the inside of the dorms,” said Campus Security Chief Tommy Buford in a news release from the school.
By Tuesday afternoon, LCMS Southern District President Rev. Kurtis Schultz reported that floodwaters on campus had receded and displaced students could be back in their dorms by the end of the week. All damages are expected to be covered by insurance.
“Over the next few days the LCMS will continue to monitor those areas affected by Hurricane Isaac,” said LCMS Disaster Response Manager Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein. “As donations become available, we will be able to reach out even further to assist our Lutheran brethren in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and LCMS congregations here in the U.S.”
Gulf Coast: Volunteers aid in cleanup
Two LCMS churches and one pastor’s home were damaged by Hurricane Isaac. Ninety-five percent of the shingles were blown off one church, and the other two structures were flooded.
These are among the estimated 13,000 homes damaged in 10 seriously flooded Louisiana parishes, according to news sources.
A team of eight volunteers from Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago, led by the Rev. Ed Brashier, Southern District disaster coordinator, began cutting up fallen trees and other cleanup chores around New Orleans. Additional groups are scheduled to arrive in the area.
Camp Restore in New Orleans is fielding a large number of calls and developing a list of homeowners who need restoration help.
“It is already clear that many residents, especially families and senior citizens, will have significant financial challenges recovering, with many insurance carriers raising deductibles for named storms,” reported the volunteer camp in a Sept. 5 news release.
Camp Restore’s long-term Hurricane Isaac recovery work will resemble continuing Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts — rebuilding homes in Braithwaite, LaPlace, Slidell and communities outlying New Orleans.
“We expect volunteer numbers to grow as we near the end of the year, with our peak season stretching from December through July,” reported Camp Restore.
Anyone interested in volunteering in the Gulf may contact Brashier at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Camp Restore at 504-242-2636. Camp Restore is welcoming short-term volunteer groups — high-school age and older — to join in the recovery effort following Hurricane Isaac. For more information, visit www.camprestore.org.
Brashier also noted the emotional impact Hurricane Isaac had among the people the volunteer team has encountered.
“We are seeing a significant number of people who are pulled back into the Katrina experience emotionally because of certain triggers, e.g. the loss of electricity; fear-mongering before the storm; threat of flooding even now,” wrote Brashier in an email to Grimenstein.
In Haiti: Illnesses reported at Lutheran clinics
Lutheran clinics in Haiti have reported cases of both cholera and malaria — 22 cases in Jacmel and nine in Leogane.
Additional health-care workers were hired to assist full-time staff members in Leogane as the demand for medical care increased following Hurricane Isaac.
The Rev. Willy Gaspar, project manager for the LCMS in Haiti, confirmed that recent LCMS donations were used to purchase additional medicines for the clinic in Jacmel in case the number of cholera cases increase.
The LCMS offered support to meet other vital needs such as food, water and temporary shelters in Haiti, as the needs arise. “The main thrust of the LCMS’ disaster-response initiative is to ensure that people are cared for both physically and pastorally. Right now, we are making a concerted effort to ensure that our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti are having their immediate physical needs met,” said Grimenstein.
LCMS staff are currently coordinating with fellow LCMS workers in Haiti to ensure that these basic necessities of life are not being overlooked.
“We are committed to meeting the immediate needs of the people of Haiti and are prepared to do so,” wrote Grimenstein in an email to the Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the Philippines: LCMS offers support after earthquakes
LCMS Disaster Response has been in contact with the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP), an LCMS partner church, following a string of earthquakes and threat of tsunami in the Philippines.
“Barring a few racked nerves, we are mostly all [OK] here in the Philippines,” wrote Sean P. Harlow, LCP assistant to the president. “Thank you so much for your never-ending care and support of us here in the Philippines. Please still continue to keep the people here in your prayers as we continue with the work that the Lord has called us to.”
As of Aug. 31, LCP leaders said there is no need for any further concern or assistance regarding the recent earthquakes.
“It seems as if the Philippines has received more than its fair share of disasters over the past few years. The members of the LCMS are committed to providing encouragement and assistance to our partner churches and missionaries worldwide,” wrote the Rev. Glenn Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response, in an email to the LCP.
For more information on the Synod’s response to Hurricane Isaac or to support the mercy work of LCMS Disaster Response, follow the LCMS online at www.lcms.org, Twitter (www.twitter.com/thelcms), the LCMS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thelcms) and the Mercy Forever blog (http://mercyforever.lcms.org).
To help those affected by the storm:
- make an online gift (click here).
- mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “Hurricane Relief”) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted Sept. 5, 2012