Disaster Response in ALL FOUR STATES

April 26, 2021
April 26, 2021
Disaster Update:

Spring has come in with fury. We have had disasters in all four states in our Synod.  We are grateful for the congregations and volunteers throughout the synod that have stepped up to provide assistance to their neighbors as well as all of you who have made donations to support disaster response. We are also grateful to Inspiritus for their early response teams in the aftermath of these storms. It takes us all to help communities and families heal after a disaster.

In Mississippi: Infrastructure disasters are our newest type of disaster impacting our synod. We provided much needed water for Memphis, TN and Jackson, MS when water was contaminated affecting a large number of families. After recent tornadoes, we partnered with another organization in Jones County to provide construction coordination to rebuild families’ homes. We continue to work with R3SM in Hattiesburg providing for construction coordination as they continue to rebuild homes after tornado and flood damage in several surrounding counties as well as send volunteers.  Pastor Stacey Parvin is our Mississippi volunteer hospitality coordinator connecting volunteers with opportunities to serve through our partner sites.

In Alabama: Alabama has been hit by 47 tornadoes so far in 2021. We are working with the Long Term Recovery Committee in Fultondale and the greater Birmingham area addressing family needs after tornadoes destroyed many homes.  We are also working in South Alabama in the Gulf Shores area assisting families impacted by the storms with unmet needs. Shepherd of the Hills congregation provided housing for the week stay for Inspiritus’ early response teams in Birmingham. John Boettner is our volunteer hospitality coordinator connecting volunteers with opportunities to serve in Alabama.

In Tennessee: We ended 2020 with three overlapping disasters: pandemic, tornado response and on Christmas Day a bombing in downtown Nashville. Spring 2021 brought additional disaster with floods that impacted 16 counties. Currently with four overlapping disasters we are active in county and state VOADs and Long Term Recovery Committees. We are funding advocacy case workers to assist tornado survivors who are experiencing complex recovery issues as well as two case workers to assist bombing survivors connect with the resources available to them.  Emotional Spiritual Care programs are in planning for youth and children as well as a respite program for caregivers. We are grateful for LDR who provided webinars/training on Muck and Gut for volunteers coming to assist after the floods. We provided housing at Christ Lutheran Church ‘Mission House’ for Inspiritus for their two week stay as they provide leadership to assist with early response after the floods. Jeff Lysyczyn serves as our Tennessee volunteer hospitality coordinator working to ready housing within our congregations and to recruit and place volunteers in the various sites to assist with recovery efforts.

In Georgia: We are early in the relief and recovery process after tornadoes ripped through the mid-state. We are working with Resurrection Lutheran Church in Newnan and Christ Our Shepherd in Peachtree City to provide emotional spiritual care programs – God’s Can Do Kids children’s camp and Disaster Recovery Support Groups.  We are also working with the Long Term Recovery Committee to provide assistance with emergency or unmet needs for families impacted by the tornadoes.  

Our Disaster Team is working to build up our disaster resources throughout the synod. We are offering training for mission teams, congregational disaster coordinators, Synod Volunteer Disaster Response Coordinators [for larger geographic areas], and also training for rostered and lay leaders in emotional spiritual care. Emotional Spiritual Care webinar #3 will be offered on May 24th from 2pm-5pm ET. Contact Pastor Morgan Gordy for more information about registration.

We are working to make congregational preparedness more user-friendly and resourcing more accessible. We want you all safe and prepared to care for your family and serve your neighbor.

We are hoping that each congregation will designate a Congregational Disaster Coordinator. A Congregational Disaster Coordinator will be a communication link to the synod for updates and information as well as help the congregation prepare and respond in the event of a disaster.  Training will be provided by our Disaster Team.  Contact Pastor Morgan Gordy and she will arrange an orientation for new coordinators.

How you can help:
  • Volunteer- Plan a trip to come and help as an individual or small team! Begin planning a mission trip to help out with the clean-up and rebuild in any of these four states. Join a ‘God’s Can Do Kid’s’ Team and plan for mission trips to help with emotional spiritual care children’s camps. Feel free to contact the coordinators in each state for more information!
  • Volunteer - Consider serving as a Congregational Disaster Coordinator and help your congregation prepare and be ready!
  • Supplies – Watch for lists of needed items. These items will become more specific as case management gets further underway. Right now gift cards are extremely helpful. Send them to the Synod office and we will get them to the sites!
  • Send funds – Donate to the Synod Disaster Fund. Your gifts help us do the important preparedness work and help families and congregations after a disaster.
  • Pray – Pray for those who have lost loved ones, homes or sustained damage. Pray for those who have had to move away from beloved community, family and friends, because of lack of housing in the aftermath of storms. Pray for those who have been injured and have experienced trauma. Pray for those who come to help those impacted by disaster, those who donate funds so that needed items can be bought.  Pray and give thanks for what God is doing in and through us as we do God’s work with our hands.
God’s peace,

    Morgan+

    Pastor Morgan Gordy, Assistant to the Bishop for Disaster Ministry
 
For more about our Disaster Ministry, please visit:  https://www.elca-ses.org/disasterministry

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