Disaster responders visit areas hit hardest by hurricane to further aid efforts

On Oct. 7, a woman carries her daughter as she walks through wreckage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

On Oct. 7, a woman carries her daughter as she walks through wreckage caused by Hurricane Matthew in Jeremie, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

By Roger Drinnon

Synod disaster responders have deployed to Haiti and the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Matthew to assess and broaden aid to victims, as they see the tragic effects of the hurricane first-hand.

LCMS Disaster Response Director Ross Johnson left St. Louis for Haiti on Oct. 10, as an outbreak of cholera has exacerbated recovery efforts there.

“We’re currently working to provide as many as 10 wells for clean water and also to provide tin roofs for some 50 area pastors and possibly 50 churches without roofs [in Haiti],” said Johnson. “We do all of this in the name of Christ. Compassionate spiritual care provided in His name — a hallmark of all LCMS World Relief and Human Care efforts at their finest — distinguishes what the Church does from what government agencies do in responding to disasters like this.”

Johnson estimates that each tin roof could be provided for roughly $1,000. He also estimates that each well could cost as much as $10,000, noting that the extent of the Synod’s response is contingent upon what God provides through the Church.

Not long after Johnson left for Haiti, LCMS Disaster Response Manager Rev. Michael Meyer went to join LCMS Southeastern District President Rev. Dr. John Denninger, so the two could travel together through some of the hardest-hit areas in North Carolina and South Carolina, which took on torrents of rain as the hurricane moved up the southeastern coastline.

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After trying to swim out to help a truck driver stranded in floodwater from Hurricane Matthew, a man holds onto a yield sign Oct. 9 in Hope Mills, N.C. Both people were rescued. (Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer via AP)

Early reports show several areas in the Carolinas have significant flooding, and more flooding is possible as rivers crest in the coming days. Several major roadways remained closed as of Oct. 11, greatly hindering access to these flooded areas. More than 30 counties reportedly have been declared federal disaster areas, and it could take a week to bring electricity back to many residents.

“As the rivers begin to crest, the extent of the flooding will increase. We’re hoping that by Wednesday [Oct. 12] or early Thursday the water levels will have receded enough for us to get in and provide guidance in these additional areas, particularly Eastern South Carolina and in North Carolina,” said Meyer. “While some areas are still closed off, we can still meet with pastors and church leaders in the areas of Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island and locations in North Carolina as well.”

Meyer said while the purpose of his trip is to assess needs and formulate an effective response stateside, he brought with him $3,000 in gift cards so local pastors can provide immediate assistance as the long road to recovery begins. He also brought along devotionals and other disaster response resources to be distributed among area congregations.

Southeastern District disaster responders are calling for volunteers to cut and remove tree debris, to muck-out flood-damaged homes and to help with home repairs for the hurricane victims, once affected areas become safely accessible. Those interested in volunteering should contact Liz DeMik at (703) 899-7244; email etdemik@aol.com or Sally Hiller, (703) 971-9371; email sjhiller@se.lcms.org.

After strengthening to Category 5, Hurricane Matthew later became a Category-4 storm with reported destructive winds in excess of 140 miles per hour as it moved through the Caribbean and up the southeastern coastline.

Recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of the hurricane come as LCMS Disaster Response resources have been strained this year amid the ongoing response to the recent flooding in Baton Rouge, La., and after the Synod’s response to this year’s California wildfires. If you would like to assist the LCMS in responding to this developing story through a donation, please call 888-930-4438 or click below.

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To donate by check, please make checks payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” (or “LCMS”). On the memo line, write “Disaster Response/Relief.” Mail your donation to The LCMS, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861. Gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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Roger Drinnon (roger.drinnon@lcms.org) is director of Editorial Services and Media Relations for LCMS Communications.

Posted October 12, 2016 / Updated October 13, 2016 (In the fourth paragraph, the estimate for the number of tin roofs that could be provided for “roughly $1,000” has been changed from “two or three” to “each tin roof.”)

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9 Responses to Disaster responders visit areas hit hardest by hurricane to further aid efforts

  1. Faith WELCA October 17, 2016 at 11:37 am #

    I want to make a matching donation for Mathew Hurricane but I can’t find where to do so.

  2. Bertha G Wandler October 30, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    We have a small amount of money left from our devastating fires we had a year ago and we have filled the needs.
    Could your area use it?

    • October 31, 2016 at 8:39 am #

      Bertha,

      It is wonderful to hear that the Lord provided for your needs after the fires! If there is anything left that can be done locally we encourage you to use it there. However, there is great need for funds in the areas affected by the hurricane if you would like to see that money put to use.

      You can contact us at Disaster@lcms.org if you’d like more information.

  3. Debbie Thompson October 31, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Is there a premade bullten insert for presenting the opportunity to donate?

  4. Gwyn Borcherding November 2, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    After the Baton Rouge flooding I sent gift cards to home repair stores along with a personal note card. They were mailed to a central office and then distributed in areas that had needs. I’d like to do that again for Hurricane Matthew but cannot find where to submit them and how to log the gift as I did last time. Thank you!

    • LCMS Church Information Center November 3, 2016 at 8:40 am #

      Thank you for your comment. You may send the gift cards to our Disaster Response team at 1333 South Kirkwood Road, Saint Louis, MO 63122 or to Sally Hiller in the Southeastern District. You’ll find their address at http://www.lcms.org/districts/southeastern.

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