Disaster Response Updates for September 7, 2021

September 07, 2021

The Congregational Disaster Plan is live!

The first step in helping your congregation prepare for a disaster is the completion of a Congregational Disaster Plan.  We now have a resource to help you make that happen – and it even has audio prompts to guide your process! Check it out on the Synod Disaster Preparedness webpage at https://www.elca-ses.org/disaster-preparedness.

Disaster Ministry Webpage is being updated – no transformed!

Check out the new webpage at https://www.elca-ses.org/disasterministry and see the resources and links available to help you prepare and respond in the event of a disaster. This is an ongoing project as we are adding new resources to the site.  Take a look!

Disaster Response Updates from around the Synod

Right now in Middle TN we are responding to the 2019 Christmas Day Bombing in Nashville, the 2020 tornado recovery and 2021 flood recovery from earlier this year as well as the recent floods in Waverly and the surrounding towns and counties. And that's just Mid/Central TN!  Beth Smith is our Synod Volunteer Disaster Coordinator helping to coordinate our responses in this area.  Currently we are providing disaster volunteer housing, emotional spiritual care programming and recruiting mission teams and volunteers to help with the recovery process. We are grateful for our congregational partner, Faith Lutheran Church in Lebanon, TN, for their hospitality center for volunteers! In addition to Beth, Pastors Gordy, Ngomou and Steinhauer all serve on long term recovery committees helping the community plan and respond to these disasters.
In Newnan, GA, we are responding after the early summer tornadoes. Jeni Dais of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Newnan is our coordinator for this response. Jeni, as well as Pastor Katie Pasch serve on the Long Term Recovery Committee there in Newnan helping them plan and respond to this disaster. We brought in our LDR National Trainers, Jean and Dale Peercy who helped train community leaders on the work of disaster recovery. This response is just getting underway with much work ahead to help the families recover.
In MS, we continue to work with our partners R3SM in Hattiesburg and Restore Jones County in Laurel responding in flood and tornado recoveries. And now with Hurricane Ida, southwest MS has sustained significant damage. Assessment and clean-up is just now beginning. Pastors Parvin and Clark as well as Synod Volunteer Disaster Coordinator Jon Biggs are actively assisting in these responses. Hurricane Ida hit our neighbors in Louisiana hard.  The damage is widespread and the lack of power and clean water in the midst of heat and damage contributes to an ongoing disaster for the people there.  Many have evacuated to areas within our synod especially along the Gulf coast. Many are in need of support and resources as they wait for the ability to return home safely.  We are working with the American Red Cross on identifying people in need and how we can help. Camp Victor Ministries – made up of representatives from the ELCA congregations on the on MS Gulf Coast - is organizing to provide support for our neighbors from Louisiana as well as respond to the disasters in south Mississippi.
In all these places we are responding…
We bring programs and staff and committee support to help local communities respond to the disaster. We bring resources, including the funds that you donate to the Synod Disaster Response, to impacted families for emergency assistance and though the ‘unmet needs’ table to help families recover. These ‘needs’ may be funding for building materials or an HVAC unit or burial costs or many other needs that families may have after a disaster. We bring volunteers, mission teams and work through the local long term recovery organizations helping rebuild and repair. We bring donations when they are requested. Donation lists will be posted for the various areas and their needs as they are requested.
We are God's people, called and gifted for these times. Working together bringing what gifts we have to offer - our time, talent and treasure - we can bear the love of Christ to our neighbor in these challenges times.
Please give to the Synod Disaster Response. Your gifts help make all this possible. If you want to serve and are just not sure how, please contact me at pmgordy@elca-ses.org. I’ll be happy to help you get connected!
God’s peace,
Pastor Morgan Gordy, Assistant to the Bishop for Disaster Ministry