From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutherans Continue Recovery Efforts Across the United States

From news@ELCA.ORG
Date 12 Feb 2001 13:48:40


February 12, 2001


     CHICAGO (ELCA)   Lutheran Disaster Response, a ministry of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), continues to "bring help and hope"
to survivors of disasters across the United States.
     "This past year, our country experienced 'no-name storms,' quickly
out of the news but leaving the impact of loss and destruction on the
lives of many," said the Rev. Gilbert B. Furst, director for Lutheran
Disaster Response.  "Lutheran Disaster Response continues to bring help
and hope to people grieving the losses disasters bring," he said.
     Response to a disaster is often characterized by a local response
team providing emergency supplies, offering pastoral care and
counseling, coordinating volunteer efforts in relief and rebuilding, and
providing grants to victims.  This response is coordinated with other
interfaith and community efforts.
     Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers and staff continue recovery
work in Alabama after tornadoes struck four counties there in December.
The tornadoes
killed 11 residents in Tuscaloosa County and one in Geneva County.
Buildings and homes were damaged or destroyed in Etowah and Limestone
     Recovery efforts continue in southeast Florida, where severe
storms produced floods in early October.  More than 93,000 homes were
surrounded by water, and more than 1,000 homes and apartments were
     In Los Alamos, N.M., forest fires have caused massive evacuations
and 380 homes were destroyed, said Furst.  "It is nine months after the
forest fires and hardly anyone is back in permanent housing.  Because of
complex circumstances, rebuilding houses has hardly begun," he said.
     The effects of the fire continue to weigh heavy on the hearts of
communities in Los Alamos, said Furst.  "One pastor there told us about
how his 10-year-old child, who was evacuated in terror during the fires,
is frightened to be alone.  The people here feel a lot of stress due to
the changes caused by their personal and community losses," he said.
     Relief efforts continue in eastern North Carolina, where Hurricane
Floyd killed 52 people in an area from the Bahamas to New England and
caused destruction in eight states in September 1999.
     Dale and Jean Peercy, volunteers for Lutheran Disaster Response,
manage construction efforts and coordinate volunteers in eastern North
Carolina on behalf of Lutheran Family Services of the Carolinas,
Raleigh, N.C.
     Essential to our disaster-response ministry is "a 7-by-26-foot
utility trailer that we use to move from location to location," said
Jean Peercy.  The trailer contains tools and other materials to rebuild
homes.  We have also used the trailer to store homeowners' possessions
while working on a home, she said.
     Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the women's
organization of the church, and Lutheran Men in Mission, the men's
organization of the ELCA, help fund and supply trailers for recovery
work, said Johanna Olson, assistant director, Lutheran Disaster
     "Trailers used in disaster recovery work have been valuable in the
ministry of volunteers working on behalf of Lutheran Disaster Response,"
Olson said.  "Trailers are now being used in other states where Lutheran
Disaster Response is working, such as  in Alabama," she said.
     Recovery work continues in:
     + Oklahoma, after a sequence of tornadoes swept through the state
May 3, 1999;
     + Granite Falls, Minn., after 13 tornadoes struck the town and
killed one person on July 25, 2000.  Initial assessments indicated that
100 homes were destroyed and more than 230 others were damaged in 
a 40-block area there; and
     + Xenia, Ohio, after a tornado and severe storms struck the town
and killed one person on Sept. 20, 2000.  Initial assessments indicated
that more than 260 homes were damaged and 60 others were destroyed.
     "Our Christian faith speaks to us in times of loss.  We are
reminded that God does not abandon us in times of loss but, in fact,
comes to us with grace and love," Furst said.
     "I give thanks to God for the continuing witness of all who love
and serve by responding to those who have walked through the valley of
the shadow of disasters, helping to set aside fear and despair by God's
living love," said Furst.


Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to survivors
of major disasters inside the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S.
Virgin Islands, please include:

ELCA Domestic Disaster Response
P.O. Box 71764
Chicago, IL  60694-1764

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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