By Sarah Schafer
The LCMS Southern District is calling on support from LCMS districts and congregations as it prepares for Hurricane Isaac — expected to strike the Gulf Coast the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 28.
The hurricane could drop 15 to 20 inches of rain over a two-day period and cause up to 12 feet of storm surge in Louisiana, giving it the potential to cause significant flood damage, according to LCMS Disaster Response Manager Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein. On Monday, Aug. 27, thousands of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama residents in low-lying areas received mandatory evacuation orders.
Also on Monday, the LCMS Southern District — which includes Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the western Panhandle portion of Florida — made two requests of Synod districts and congregations.
Southern District Disaster Coordinator Rev. Ed Brashier called 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.
Brashier also is asking Southern District congregations to open their church buildings to host volunteer teams as the need arises.
And LCMS District Disaster Response Coordinators nationwide have been asked to remain ready to help set up base camps in affected areas.
“I hope to have a response team in each major city in the path” [of the hurricane], wrote Brashier in an email to Grimenstein. Brashier will man the response center at Camp Restore in New Orleans and the Rev. Dave Buss will serve a similar role in Baton Rouge, La. Both men were involved in response efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Tentative plans are to drive into the response area on Sunday afternoon” (Sept. 2) wrote Brashier in his request to districts and congregations.
Interested volunteers and teams may contact Brashier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on call is the Rev. Dr. Richard Armstrong, operations coordinator and associate director of Lutheran Counseling Services in Winter Park, Fla., who stands ready to assist the Southern District as it provides pastoral and psychological services to those in need.
Grimenstein stressed that the plans are tentative, since the hurricane has not yet caused damage in Gulf Coast areas and LCMS responders “have no idea what the extent of damage will be.”
LCMS Disaster Response has offered prayers, financial support and guidance to the Southern District.
Aug. 29 marks the seventh anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
“Katrina taught us that the worst-case scenario not only can happen, but will happen. The church should be ready to the best of its ability to provide physical and pastoral care, not slighting either one,” said Grimenstein.
The district disaster-response system was put in place shortly after Hurricane Katrina — a strength to area Lutherans as they prepare for Isaac, according to Grimenstein.
“This specific system allows us to capitalize on the amazing love, energy and compassion of the LCMS” and share with people hurting from disasters that “Christ loves you, Christ cares about you, and we care about you,” he said. “We won’t leave you today or next week. We’re here as long as you need us.”
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).
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted Aug. 28, 2012