By Sarah Schafer
LCMS districts and congregations along the East Coast are preparing for Hurricane Sandy and two other storm fronts expected to strike the region late Monday or Tuesday, Oct. 29 or 30.
“Each district is implementing necessary precautions and alerts,” according to the Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response. Merritt has been in contact with LCMS districts in areas that could be affected by the storms.
“While the impact of hurricanes is tricky to predict, it is apparent that Hurricane Sandy has already caused considerable damage and loss of life, particularly in the Caribbean, and remains a credible threat to the Northeastern seaboard of the United States,” he said.
Merritt urged anyone in the region who has not already made necessary preparations to do so. The LCMS Southeastern District (SED) offers disaster preparedness resources online (click here). LCMS Disaster Response resources are available here.
LCMS Disaster Response also is poised to help districts and congregations as they respond to the needs of those affected by this disaster in their local communities. To request additional help in preparing for — or responding to — the storm, contact Merritt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-504-0078.
Following the June 29 storm that cut off electricity to some SED members for a week, Deaconess Sally J. Hiller, the district’s executive director for Congregational Outreach and District Operations, offered tips to congregations for responding with “mercy and compassion to those in need.”
Those suggestions include:
- Let the community know that you are a “power” station where people can come and charge their phones and other electrical devices.
- Prepare meals and take them to the elderly and shut-ins.
- 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 tree limbs and debris.
As they have done in the past, LCMS Disaster Response staff are asking volunteers to allow emergency responders time to respond before traveling to the East Coast to help with relief efforts.
Hurricane Sandy first made landfall in the Caribbean Oct. 24 and has been blamed for a total of 69 deaths in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
The Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, reports that the hurricane caused heavy flooding in southern Dominican Republic.
According to the Rev. Dr. Albert Garcia, a professor at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., who works with the Cuban Lutheran Fellowship, more than 20,000 people — including many Lutherans — in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second-largest city, lost roofs on their homes.
LCMS Disaster Response staff remain in contact with Garcia and Krey, and continue to assess needs in Haiti through the Rev. Marky Kessa, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti.
In addition to Reporter Online, continuing updates about the Synod’s response to Hurricane Sandy will be posted on the LCMS website 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.
- mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “LCMS Disaster Relief — Hurricane”) 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.