As of July 5, more than 500,000 homes and businesses remained without power from Ohio to Virginia, according to news reports, following a June 29 storm with winds as high as 80 mph. And the record heat that followed the storm has been blamed for the deaths of at least 23 people.
In a July 5 email update from the Synod’s Southeastern District (SED) to its congregations, Deaconess Sally J. Hiller said “there are still many without power,” but “throughout the [district], people have been responding with offers of assistance to those in need in their communities.”
First Lutheran Church in Bowie, Md., opened its facility as a cooling center and provided breakfast for members of the congregation and community, according to Hiller, executive director for Congregational Outreach and District Operations with the SED.
“There are a few reports of damage done to homes, but the greatest loss was that of refrigerated and frozen foods,” she said.
Hiller told Reporter on July 6 that, according to her local news reports, only 1 percent of those who had lost power in the area are still without it. All power is expected to be restored by Monday, July 9.
Hiller also offers these tips to congregations that want to “show mercy and compassion to those in need” in the midst of power outages and heat waves:
- Provide your facility as a cooling station — a place of refuge from the heat.
- Let the community know that you are a “power” station where people can come and charge their phones and other electrical devices.
- Offer free bottles of cool water at intersections and other busy areas.
- Prepare meals and take them to the elderly and shut-ins.
- Contact local merchants and offer to distribute ice and water.
- Activate your phone tree, checking in regularly to make sure members are OK.
- Gather a team to walk through the neighborhood to help with cleaning up the tree limbs and debris.
“As always, this opens up an opportunity to ask if you are prepared to survive and respond in the event of a disaster,” Hiller says. “Take time to read through what is needed for a disaster-response kit for a family, for a congregation. Encourage members of the community to be prepared. Model what it involves, provide space to assemble response kits, and encourage your families, your neighborhood, to be ready.”
For a list of items to include in a disaster-readiness kit, click here.
The Southeastern District Disaster Response Team offers a series of videos that are designed to prepare congregations to respond (click here).
Says Hiller: “One thing is certain — in the midst of moments such as these, God is still God. His love and mercy extends to all people. We are invited to be His hands and feet in this time.
“Be open to help those who are struggling with the challenge of not having power for a week. Recognize the weariness of an elderly neighbor trying to survive in such hot, humid days. Step up and assist another as they work to clear the debris that is all about them.
“Christ calls us, through His own example, to care for our neighbor. Let’s reach out and be [neighbors].”
The Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response with the Synod’s Office of International Mission, said his office “remains in contact with the [LCMS] districts affected by this powerful storm” and is “offering encouragement and assistance.”
Merritt said the District Disaster Response Teams have been doing “an exceptional job” of touching base with local LCMS congregations to connect with those without power during the heat wave.
And he added that “prayers and financial support are needed” as LCMS Disaster Response helps those local disaster teams to help others.
To help LCMS Disaster Response share Christ’s mercy:
- make an online gift at http://lcms.org/disasterfund.
- mail checks (noting “General Disaster Response Fund” in the memo line) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
Donations received for general disaster-relief efforts will be used to support LCMS disaster-response and relief efforts where the greatest need is, as determined by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Your gift is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Posted by Reporter Online on July 6, 2012 / Updated July 9, 2012