By Sarah Schafer
LCMS Disaster Response is urging volunteers to allow emergency responders time to do their jobs before traveling to the Gulf Coast to help with relief efforts.
“It is vital to allow emergency responders such as medics, firemen and police the time they need to safely secure an area,” said the Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein, manager of LCMS Disaster Response. “In the case of Hurricane Isaac, this will take several days because the storm is slow-moving and probably much flooding will be involved over a wide geographical region.”
Hurricane Isaac’s 75-mph winds downed trees and its heavy rain caused flooding and road closures overnight. Strong winds and steady rain are expected to continue through Wednesday, Aug. 29. News sources report the biggest threat is storm-surge flooding. Storm surges reached 12 feet in parts of Louisiana and Florida.
The LCMS Southern District has begun its assessment of the area east of Mobile, Ala., according to President Rev. Kurtis Schultz. He added that assessment in New Orleans will not be possible until Friday at the earliest.
“People should not travel directly to the site without first coordinating with the appropriate personnel and allowing an assessment to determine need,” said Grimenstein.
LCMS Southern District Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Ed Brashier plans to arrive in the response area Sunday, Sept. 2.
The Rev. David Goodine of Camp Restore in New Orleans reported on Aug. 29 that Camp Restore is operating and, once the storm has passed and there has been a chance to assess the needs of people, the camp will be able to host volunteers.
Brashier received emails answering his call to help the Southern District prepare for Isaac, but he continues to call on willing districts or groups with chainsaw and roof-tarping experience to contact him about volunteering. Teams must be able to provide their own funding to cover lodging, travel, meals and other costs.
Interested volunteers and teams may contact Brashier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Southern District is grateful to God for the prayer of His people on behalf of all in the path of Isaac. We continue to watch and pray in the reassurance of the Father’s gracious presence and peace that passes all understanding in Jesus,” said Schultz.
As response efforts in the United States get underway, Lutherans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic continue their work of mercy in response to what was Tropical Storm Isaac when it hit their island nations.
On Monday, Aug. 27, the Rev. Willie Gaspar, project manager for the LCMS in Haiti and a pastor in the Dominican Republic, coordinated a repair crew to fix a clinic roof in Leogane. The following day he traveled to begin assessing the cholera risk due to flooding and unsanitary water conditions, and to start stocking clinics with supplies.
Consultation has been made with clinic doctors who requested additional supplies. These supplies will be purchased from funds provided by the LCMS. Gaspar is working to locate a vaccine for those who may suffer from severe cholera, according to the Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Roads in Haiti are being cleared of mudslides, including the access into Jacmel, where Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti President Rev. Marky Kessa lives and where a Lutheran village is located.
“Thanks to our church body for support, prayers and concern on behalf of those who suffered in the tropical storm and also our gratefulness that our people are thinking of mercy in serving their neighbor whom they can’t see in very evident needs,” wrote Krey.
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 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 Aug. 29, 2012