ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/Ebola outbreak: "The church has to help"Megan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/272http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/272<div class="ExternalClassD0428C47E7E74BA4A2AE40950FCFA33E"><p>​The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and longest-lasting Ebola outbreak in recorded history. To further understand the scale of this disease, the Ebola outbreak is actually the first Ebola epidemic the world has experienced, as the virus has spread to multiple countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. More than 2,400 people have died from Ebola during this epidemic. </p><p>The spread of Ebola presents several more complications than just battling and containing the virus itself. People in infected areas have been quarantined to their homes as towns shut down to try to limit the disease from spreading further. As a result, people are not able to work, harvest fields or purchase food. Other countries that ship food to the region are afraid to dock their ships to deliver food for fear of contracting the virus. The lack of food has been a growing concern as people are now dealing with food security issues that have been exacerbated by the spread of Ebola.</p><p>&quot;We need food,&quot; says the Rev. D. Jensen Seyenkulo, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. &quot;Our workers from all across the country are being asked to take off work during the crisis. The quarantined communities and stranded travelers are crying for food and water. The treatment centers need food. There is a saying around now that goes like this&#58; 'If we do not die of Ebola, we will die of starvation.'&quot;</p><p>In August, Lutheran Disaster Response committed $10,000 to assist Global Health Ministries in the <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/264">shipment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Liberia</a>. Lutheran Disaster Response is now committing $90,000 to assist with food distributions in Liberia and Sierra Leone and with Ebola sensitization and prevention in Liberia, the country that currently has experienced the highest number of Ebola cases. </p><p><strong>Food Distributions in Liberia and Sierra Leone</strong></p><p>We will work with our companion church, the Lutheran Church in Liberia, to activate food distributions in six targeted areas of Liberia that will assist 999 households with a month's supply of oil, rice and fish. </p><p>In Sierra Leone, we will work with our companion church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone, to provide food assistance also consisting of oil, rice and fish to 3,000 individuals.</p><p>&quot;With no way to buy food, the church has to help,&quot; says the Rev. Thomas Barnett, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone.</p><p><strong>Ebola Sensitization and Prevention in Liberia </strong></p><p>Liberia has seen the highest number of Ebola cases since the outbreak reached the country in March. Since the disease presents a 90 percent fatality rate, raising awareness about symptoms and prevention is vital. With our partner, ACT Alliance, we will work with Lutheran Development Services and the Lutheran Church in Liberia to provide Ebola sensitization and prevention training to 4,500 individuals in Lofa and Bong counties. </p><p>In addition to the training program, we will work with our companions and partners to construct an isolation unit at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. This unit will provide significant contributions toward the containment of the disease and the ability to provide life-saving care.</p><p><img alt="Phebe hospital in Liberia.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Phebe%20hospital%20in%20Liberia.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /><br></p><p>Please join us as we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the rest of the West Africa region who are daily battling with the risks of Ebola and the many impacts that come with it. </p><p>If you would like t<span id="part1"></span>o support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in the fight against Ebola, please visit the Lutheran Disaster Response – <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/ebolaoutbreakresponse">Ebola Outbreak giving page</a>. </p><p><em>We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4&#58;8-10</em></p></div>09/18/2014Long-term recovery in progress following spring wildfires in CaliforniaMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/271http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/271<div class="ExternalClassDBC7FB4EBC814F3E8FA9E665C19F25AB"><p>​In May, a series of 9 wildfires broke out in San Diego County, Calif. Severe Santa Ana wind conditions and a heat wave played contributing factors in the spreading of the fires. By the time all of the fires were contained, more than 29,000 acres of land had been burned. </p><p>Through an initial $10,500 commitment from Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, Lutheran Social Services of Southern California and Inter-Lutheran Emergency Response Team are working together on the Long-Term Recovery Committee to provide assistance in the area impacted by the wildfires. </p><p>Long-Term Recovery Committees are essential in the aftermath of a disaster to help impacted communities recover, rebuild and adjust to their &quot;new normal.&quot; Long-Term Recovery Committees provide a place for people who were impacted by disaster to ask questions and get connected with necessary resources for their recovery. The Long-Term Recovery Committee in San Diego County will help people who have been impacted by providing resources for needs that are not met by insurance coverage to assist in rebuilding.</p><p>The wildfires not only caused property damage—they caused environmental damage. Rebuilding and new growth will be a long process. We keep the community of San Diego County in our prayers and we walk with them on their recovery journey. </p></div>09/09/2014Celebrating Disaster Preparedness Month with new Congregational Disaster Preparedness GuidebookMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/270http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/270<div class="ExternalClass03C1977CFF2740F6A03BAF9D7F0F995B"><p>September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and what better way for us to celebrate than to announce our new <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Congregational_Disaster_Preparedness_Guide_Lutheran_Disaster_Response.pdf">Congregational Disaster Preparedness Guidebook</a>!</p><p><img alt="disaster preparedness guidebook.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/disaster%20preparedness%20guidebook.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;343px;height&#58;446px;" /><br></p><p>As the introduction in the guide says, &quot;The purpose of this guidebook is to help congregations take some basic and important steps toward resiliency and intentionality in response to disaster so that they will be better able to serve their communities when disasters strike.&quot;</p><p>Categorized into sections, the guidebook provides a step-by-step approach to creating a comprehensive disaster response plan for your congregation. </p><ul><li>Section 1&#58; &quot;Developing a Congregational Preparedness Plan&quot; – Using corresponding worksheets, this section provides congregations a process for creating their unique preparedness plan.</li><li>Section 2&#58; &quot;Response&quot; – This section addresses how congregations, communities and individuals achieve a &quot;new normal&quot; after a disaster through long-term recovery.</li><li>Section 3 and 4&#58; &quot;Emotional and Spiritual Care&quot; and &quot;Worship in times of disaster&quot; – These sections provide tools for spiritual leaders and recognizes that the church is called to provide care through prayer and worship.</li><li>Section 5&#58; Glossary – The final section provides a glossary of terms, additional resources and the worksheets that are used throughout the guidebook.</li></ul><p>This guidebook is a valuable resource for all congregations, even those who have not experienced a disaster first-hand. It is never known when a natural or human-caused disaster could impact your community, but people will turn to the church for answers, whether you are ready or not. By developing a plan, congregations are prepared and able to share the message of God's gift of hope and promise of new life in the midst of a disaster or crisis. </p><p>&quot;We developed this guidebook because we realized it would be helpful for a congregation to have not only the information of how to prepare and respond to a disaster, but some practical ways they could do so,&quot; said Pastor Michael Stadie, program director of Lutheran Disaster Response – U.S. &quot;This is the first comprehensive book from Lutheran Disaster Response that covers these topics and also provides worksheets to walk a congregation through the process of disaster preparedness. We are pleased to make this free download available not only to ELCA congregations but to anyone who has an interest in helping their house of worship.&quot;</p><p>To download the guide in its entirety, please <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Congregational_Disaster_Preparedness_Guide_Lutheran_Disaster_Response.pdf">click here</a>. To view and download specific sections of the guide, please visit <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Lutheran-Disaster-Response">Lutheran Disaster Response Resources</a> and click on the &quot;General&quot; tab. </p><p>​</p></div>09/03/20146.0 earthquake strikes near Napa, Calif.Megan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/269http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/269<div class="ExternalClass754F1A53905D47128D7FCED66503058C"><p>​Early Sunday morning, Aug. 24, an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit the San Francisco Bay Area. The earthquake, which was the largest seismic event in the area since a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in 1989, injured 120 people, triggered fires and power outages, and left significant damage to properties. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Napa Valley Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Napa, Calif., has reported some structural damage that it received as a result of the earthquake. Building inspectors and insurance agents will be visiting the church in the next few days to evaluate the extent of the damage. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, our Lutheran Disaster Response local affiliate, is assessing the situation and gathering reports of damages that were sustained in the area as a result of the earthquake. We will continue to review the situation and be in contact with Lutheran Social Services of Northern California and our local congregations and synod to see how we may be able to provide assistance.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">“The thoughts and prayers of the Lutheran Disaster Response network are with those injured and affected by the earthquake,” says the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director for Lutheran Disaster Response. “We are monitoring the situation and standing by to provide help to the impacted communities as they begin the process of recovery. </p> </div>08/25/2014Long-term recovery following early summer storms in South DakotaMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/268http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/268<div class="ExternalClass95A0C41978EA4EDEB63F9870A32C41CA"><p>​In June, eastern South Dakota experienced severe weather ranging from record downpours to a tornado. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><strong>Heavy rains lead to flooding</strong></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">During the night of June 16, Lincoln County received 8.5 inches of rain, which means it received a full month’s worth of rain in one evening. This significant rainfall, paired with continued rain storms throughout the region during the following two weeks, caused riverbanks to overflow, lower levels of homes to flood, sewers to backup and more than 12 farms to be flooded. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">In the town of Canton, in Lincoln County, highways and roads leading into the town were completely flooded, which made it difficult for rescue and emergency-response vehicles to provide service to the approximately 1,300 households that were impacted by the flooding.<span>&#160; </span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">In addition to the homes and businesses in Canton that experienced negative effects from the flooding, the oldest Norwegian Lutheran church in the state, Canton Lutheran (an ELCA congregation), was severely damaged in the flood.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><strong>Tornado destroys, damages homes</strong></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">On June 18, an EF-2 tornado went through Wessington Springs, a town in Jerauld County, destroying dozens of homes and businesses. Wessington Springs has 1,000 residents that comprise 485 households. Of those 485 homes, 43 were damaged, 12 were totally destroyed and another 12 were left uninhabitable. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Tornado%20in%20Wessington%20Springs%20SD.jpg" alt="Tornado in Wessington Springs SD.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;354px;height&#58;267px;" /></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><em>(Pictured&#58; A view of Wessington Springs after the tornado.)</em><br></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Lutheran Disaster Response has committed an initial $100,000 to Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota to assist in long-term recovery efforts that are following these June storms. Long-term recovery efforts will include disaster case management to work with people who were impacted by the disasters to connect them with necessary resources so they can return to their “new normal.” Recovery projects will also include construction management in Canton and Wessington Springs to assist in the repair and rebuilding of homes. <span>&#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">We will work hand-in-hand with the people of eastern South Dakota as they recover and rebuild after being impacted by severe weather. Thanks to your generosity in undesignated gifts, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to provide help when and where it is most needed.</p> <span style="font-size&#58;11pt;line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;">If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in providing hope and healing to those who have been impacted by disaster, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">Lutheran Disaster Response giving page</a>. </span></div>08/22/2014Unaccompanied and Migrant Children: Myths vs. FactsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/267http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/267<div class="ExternalClassAEA6AF4D58E740EFACEAB7FCF242CB4E"> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Since October 2013, approximately 60,000 children from Central America have crossed borders to arrive in the United States. This mass migration of children has garnered international media attention, and with it, a lot of contradictory information. So what is actually happening with this crisis at the border? Recently, a group from the ELCA traveled to the U.S. Texas/Mexico border to learn about the situation first-hand. The trip included visits with U.S. Border Patrol, social workers, pastors, an attorney, and the refugee children themselves. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/cropped%20Martinez.jpg" alt="cropped Martinez.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">(Pictured&#58; Danny Martinez, an agent for U.S. Border Patrol, gives a presentation about the U.S. Border Patrol's work.)<br></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Listed below are just five myths and their corresponding facts that tell what is really happening at the border. For further detail, and for more myths and facts, please read the <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Unaccompanied_Migrant_Children_Myths_Facts.pdf">Unaccompanied and Migrant Children –Myths vs. Facts resource.</a></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><br> </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">MYTH&#58; Border crossings are on the rise.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">FACT&#58; Border crossings are actually down from where they were in the 1990s, when more than 1.5 million people would come to the U.S. every year. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">U.S. border apprehensions overview&#58;</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">2000&#58; 1,675,438 people</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">2008&#58; 723,825</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">2013&#58; 420,789</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">&#160;</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">MYTH&#58; These kids are here illegally.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">FACT&#58; Most of these kids are seeking out and surrendering themselves to U.S. Border Patrol; they are not running. When a child comes into contact with U.S. Border Patrol, Border Patrol has 72 hours to process him or her. If possible, the child is repatriated. If not, the child is processed and given a “Notice to Appear” (NTA), which references his or her court date. Because of this processing, the child is neither here undocumented nor illegally. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">The ELCA and other humanitarian organizations are caring for children who are awaiting review of appeals for asylum or protection and for those who have been released from detention to join family or sponsors. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">&#160;</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">MYTH&#58; These kids are carrying drugs and are just here to cause trouble. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">FACT&#58; Drug-related violence and exploitation is a primary reason these children flee. Drugs are being run by drug cartels, not by children from Central America who are seeking asylum. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">Most of these children are seeking out and surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol in order to receive protection from exploitation and other risks. When asked why they left their homes, children say they were hungry or their parents sent them to try to protect them from being recruited into the gang violence and trafficking in their communities. They are not troublemakers; they are trying to avoid trouble. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">&#160;</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">MYTH&#58; These kids have diseases that they will spread to us and our kids in school.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">FACT&#58; Lutheran Social Services of the South has cared for approximately 6,000 unaccompanied children in the past year, and they report fewer than a dozen children who have needed more than routine medical care. The primary health issues these children are receiving care for include dehydration, the common cold and dental needs. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">&#160;</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">MYTH&#58; Taxpayers are paying for these kids to reunite with their families.</p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">FACT&#58; When unaccompanied children are released from detention facilities while their cases are reviewed and resolved, they are released to a family member or a sponsor. They are not released until their transportation is paid for either by themselves or their family or sponsor. Often, family members send money and a bus voucher is given to be redeemed for a ticket at the bus station. </p><p class="MsoNoSpacing"><br></p><p class="MsoNoSpacing">If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work with Unaccompanied and Migrant Children, please visit the<a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/unaccompaniedmigrantchildren"> Lutheran Disaster Response giving page</a>.<br></p> <p>​</p></div>08/12/2014