ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/Responding to the severe flooding in the southern plainsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/303http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/303<div class="ExternalClassF639ABD37E7C47C1A53F346642B53C80"><p>​Texas, Oklahoma and now Arkansas are experiencing severe flooding that started due to heavy rainfall and flash floods in the region during Memorial Day weekend. This has been the wettest May, or even month, on record for most of the region. In Texas, it is estimated that 35 trillion gallons of rain have fallen during the past month. Some cities in Texas have received at least four inches of rain for the past 25 consecutive days. At least 27 people have died due to the flooding in the U.S., and several more people are still missing. Normally dry riverbeds are flooded, leaving 4,000 houses damaged or destroyed and many streets and interstates submerged. </p><p class="MsoNormal">And the rain is still falling.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/RuetersHoustonFlooding15.jpg" alt="RuetersHoustonFlooding15.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size&#58;12px;"><em>Flooding in Houston, Texas. Credit&#58; Reuters</em></span><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response has been in contact with our disaster affiliates on the ground in the region, as well as with synods and congregations. We are keeping up-to-date on the situation and are assessing the immediate and long-term needs of those in the flooded areas. We will act in coordination with our network of social ministry organizations and synods to respond to these needs, and we will walk with those who have been affected through every phase of the disaster recovery process. We will stay long after the water recedes to assist in the rebuilding and recovery long-term response needs. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Please support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in responding to the flooding in the southern plains by visiting the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/donations/us-spring-storms-donate">U.S. Spring Storms giving page</a>. <span>&#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em>Please follow Lutheran Disaster Response on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/LutheranDisasterResponse">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/elcaldr">Twitter</a>.</em><br></p></div>05/29/2015Ebola Outbreak: Liberia declared “Ebola-free”Megan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/302http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/302<div class="ExternalClassAA7DF36947934658AFE43E3A5AE0CD96"><p>​On March 30, 2014, Liberia confirmed its first two cases in the recent Ebola epidemic. A little more than a year later, Liberia was officially declared Ebola-free on May 9, 2015, after 42 days of zero reported Ebola cases.&#160; </p><p class="MsoNormal">Day 42 is the magic number because it is double the timeframe of the virus’ incubation period of 21 days, which is the official criterion needed to declare that the human-to-human transmission of the virus is over. This is an enormous achievement for Liberia – a country that was reporting 300-400 new Ebola cases every week during the peak of the epidemic.</p><p class="MsoNormal">The Rev. Andrea Walker, Global Mission area program director for Madagascar, West/Central Africa was in Liberia when the epidemic officially ended. </p><p class="MsoNormal">“The most incredible thing to me as I visited Liberia during the week they were declared Ebola-free is the hard work of the people of Liberia,” says Walker. “Everywhere they showed extreme vigilance. The directive to wash your hands and to have your temperature taken were measures that I am sure helped to curtail this disease. It was good to be with the people of the Lutheran Church in Liberia once again. I felt the absence of the usual hugs and handshakes, but I realize that this change of cultural practice had been necessary for survival.”</p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Ebola%20poster%20from%20Liberia.png" alt="Ebola poster from Liberia.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;541px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size&#58;12px;"><em>A poster from Liberia on Ebola prevention tips that was used to help curtail the outbreak.</em></span><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">While they could have felt defeated as the Ebola virus continued to spread throughout their country, Liberians did not give up – they fought against the disease with everything they had. </p><p class="MsoNormal">“Liberians were hard at work during the Ebola crisis, trying to save their way of life,” says the Rev. Themba Mkhabela, Global Mission regional representative for Madagascar, West/Central Africa. “Liberia would not be free of Ebola today if Liberians did not fight to save their country. The efforts of the international community also helped win the fight against Ebola, but the efforts of the international community would not have succeeded without the role played by volunteers, ordinary Liberians and the people of faith.”</p><p class="MsoNormal">One of those people of faith was Bishop D. Jensen Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, who stayed in Liberia throughout the outbreak to provide support and serve as a trusted voice. Many Liberians were initially cautious of the government’s warnings about Ebola. Bishop Seyenkulo made many trips around the country in the midst of the epidemic to make sure people understood the seriousness of the situation and the care that was needed.</p><p class="MsoNormal">“I am reminded of an incident in one of the most devastated villages in the country where people refused to accept the county medical team or government officials,” says Bishop Seyenkulo. “The only person they were ready to listen to was their bishop. At the invitation of county officials, I dropped everything and drove there to reassure community members. At that point, the community opened itself to the medical help it needed.” </p><p class="MsoNormal">Thanks to the gifts given by people like you, Lutheran Disaster Response was able to assist in the fight against Ebola in Liberia when the outbreak was just beginning. We worked with our companion, Lutheran Church in Liberia, and partners, ACT Alliance and Global Health Ministries. Lutheran Disaster Response provided medical and disinfectant supplies, distributed food to people who were quarantined and helped ensure World Health Organization standards were met in the construction of an isolation center at Phebe Hospital. We also helped cover air-freight costs for shipments of personal protective equipment to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Your generosity allowed Lutheran Disaster Response to be the church and accompany our brothers and sisters in Liberia during this difficult time.</p><p class="MsoNormal">While we give thanks for Liberia being declared Ebola-free and celebrate with the people whose vigilance made it possible, we continue to pray for the people of Sierra Leone and Guinea who are still fighting against the Ebola outbreak. And even though Liberia is now Ebola-free, the work necessary to rebuild communities and health systems is just beginning. We will continue to walk with the people of Liberia as they begin the post-Ebola phase of recovery. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Please continue to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in the fight against Ebola by visiting the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/ebolaoutbreakresponse?_ga=1.38168739.1404219041.1427831746">Ebola Outbreak Response giving page</a>. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Follow Lutheran Disaster Response on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/LutheranDisasterResponse">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/elcaldr">Twitter</a>. <br></p></div>05/22/2015Nepal Earthquake: Krishna’s storyMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/301http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/301<div class="ExternalClass63BA95239FA649A997A8DC74C7CA6370"><p>​The April 25 and May 12 earthquakes in Nepal affected more than 8 million people. Thanks to your generosity, Lutheran Disaster Response was able to provide assistance right away, working with our partners on the ground – The Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran World Relief and United Mission to Nepal. Since the earthquakes, we have been helping provide for immediate needs with distributions of emergency food packs and shelter kits. Along the way, we have heard many stories of how the earthquakes have affected families and the way of life in villages around the country. </p><p>Below is Krishna's story that has been shared with us from our partner, Lutheran World Relief. </p><p><em>Krishna has lived in the village of Jaubari Dhansar her entire life. Located in the remote Gorkha District of Nepal, it is among the hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal April 25.</em></p><p><em>In fact, the village is so remote that LWR team had to switch from regular four-wheel drive SUV to a customized Jeep designed to navigate the rough terrain. It took more than two hours to drive less than 20 miles, with no sight of paved road for most of the trip.</em><em>&#160; </em><em>It takes the villagers more than four hours and costs $2 in bus rides to get to the nearest town.</em></p><p><em>Krishna says she feels lucky that her family – including her husband, two sons and pregnant daughter-in-law – weren't harmed in the quake. It struck during a time when many people in the village are usually outside sitting or working.</em></p><p><em>While Krishna is thankful to have survived the earthquake, she says she's lost all her belongings. Her family's food supply is buried under the rubble and she says it will take them years to rebuild their house on the roughly $8-10 per day income her husband and sons bring home from working in the nearby town. As for herself, Krishna says she's traumatized. &quot;It feels like the earth is shaking all the time,&quot; she says.</em></p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Tarps%20for%20temporary%20shelter%20Credit%20-%20LWR.jpg" alt="Tarps for temporary shelter Credit - LWR.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /></p><p><span style="font-size&#58;12px;"><em>Pictured&#58; Krishna received a temporary shelter kit and food pack during a distribution with Lutheran World Relief and other partners in Nepal. </em></span><br></p><p><em>Krishna said she's had to borrow food from those who had some left. The food packages LWR distributed that day are designed to last 15 days for a family of five, but she hopes it will last longer. The family also received a 12- by 15-foot tarp to cover the roof of their house.</em><em>&#160; </em><em>This will help protect Krishna and her family from the rains, which will intensify during the upcoming monsoon season, which runs from June through September.</em></p><p>The food pack and tarp will help provide for immediate needs for Krishna and her family, and we will continue to work with Lutheran World Relief, The Lutheran World Federation and United Mission to Nepal to provide long-term assistance. We will be there to help families like Krishna's rebuild their homes and restore livelihoods so we can help them recover and increase their resilience to disasters. </p><p>If you would like to continue to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in Nepal, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/donations/nepalearthquake?_ga=1.200197294.1404219041.1427831746">Nepal Area Earthquake giving page</a>. </p><p>Follow Lutheran Disaster Response on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/LutheranDisasterResponse">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/elcaldr">Twitter</a>.</p></div>05/21/2015“Innovative Program of the Year” for storm shelter pilot projectMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/300http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/300<div class="ExternalClass98365318553440B892D842A3DD4A019E"><p>​Lutheran Disaster Response was awarded “Innovative Program of the Year” for its <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/294">storm shelter pilot project</a> during last week’s National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognized our work with our partners, Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South) and Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), on this project that assists families in tornado-prone communities.</p><p class="MsoNormal">The pilot project was developed to help people who have been affected by tornadoes by providing resources and technical support to install storm shelters on their properties. During the year-long pilot project, 206 families in the greater Oklahoma City area and 19 families in Louisville, Miss., received storm shelters. We worked with long-term recovery groups in these two tornado-affected areas to identify families who were most vulnerable to tornadoes and to provide case management in the storm shelter selection and installation process. </p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Safe%20room%202.jpg" alt="Safe room 2.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;310px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size&#58;12px;"><em>Pictured&#58; A storm shelter that was selected based on a family's specific needs and installed on their property.</em></span><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">The storm shelter project is continuing beyond this pilot year, and more storm shelters are slated for installation. The learnings from the pilot will be used to help create and advise national guidelines for other storm shelter programs around the country. </p><p class="MsoNormal">This award comes at a time that serves as another reminder of the importance of storm shelters and disaster preparedness, in general. Today marks two years since deadly tornadoes tore through Moore, Okla., and the surrounding area leaving physical and emotional destruction in their path. We remember the people who were affected by these tornadoes and we hold them in our prayers as we acknowledge that they are still on their journey of recovering and rebuilding. And, we give thanks for our partners who have helped us implement the storm shelter pilot program—a project that provides physical safety and peace of mind for people living in these tornado-prone areas of the country. </p><p class="MsoNormal"><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">Follow Lutheran Disaster Response on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/LutheranDisasterResponse">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/elcaldr">Twitter</a>. <br></p></div>05/20/2015Nepal Earthquake: Working with partners to distribute relief materialsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/299http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/299<div class="ExternalClass0ED37AFF20444E7D82920CE0A14A5107"><p>​It has been three days since the second earthquake in less than three weeks hit Nepal. (First earthquake&#58; April 25; second earthquake&#58; May 12) Aftershocks are still being felt, which continue to generate landslides. The landslides and debris are blocking roadways, which is making transportation difficult—especially in remote villages. These obstacles combined with the approaching monsoon season are making relief activities a little complicated. However, Lutheran Disaster Response and our partners on the ground are continuing to reach as many people as possible and are committed to providing assistance to those who need it most. </p><p><strong>The Lutheran World Federation (LWF)</strong></p><p>Working with LWF, we have distributed relief items to 8,957 households (43,703 people) across Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Kathmandu districts. More than 96 tons of rice, 24 tons of lentils, 6,100 tarps, 7,000 blankets and 1,200 bars of soap have been distributed to families. Several other items, such as solar lamps and hygiene packs have also been provided for people who need them most. </p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Distributing%20blanket%20in%20Lalitpur,%20a%20village%20that%20was%20completely%20destroyed%20by%20the%20earthquake.%20Credit%20-%20LWF.jpg" alt="Distributing blanket in Lalitpur, a village that was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Credit - LWF.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;233px;" /></p><p><em style="font-size&#58;12px;">Distributing blankets in Lalitpur, a village that was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Credit - LWF</em><br></p><p>LWF is the lead agency in the ACT Alliance response. Dr. Prabin Manandhar, the LWF country director in Nepal, was recently appointed to the &quot;Disaster Management Coordination Committee&quot; in Nepal that was formed by the Nepalese government. The committee will focus on relief and reconstruction activities, and Dr. Manandhar is one of four people on the committee who&#160;is representing international non-governmental organizations in Nepal. </p><p><strong>Lutheran World Relief (LWR)</strong></p><p>With Lutheran World Relief, we have distributed food packets and shelter items in Gorkha and Lamjung districts. Nearly 2,000 food packets that will be sufficient for 15 days for families of five have been distributed. The food packets consist of rice, sugar, lentils, salt and oil. More than 2,100 tarps that can be used for shelter material have been provided. In all, 2,362 households (11,810 people) have received food packets and tarps, and there are immediate distribution plans for at least 1,000 more families.</p><p>Lutheran World Relief is also working with LWF to plan distributions for 9,240 quilts, 1,000 personal care kits and 100 water filtration units that have been shipped to Nepal in coordination with the United Nations.</p><p>While continuing to assist in immediate relief, we are working with Lutheran World Relief to assess for long-term responses, including home rebuilding, livelihood rehabilitation and longer-term food assistance.</p><p><strong>United Mission to Nepal (UMN)</strong></p><p>We are working with UMN on relief activities in Dhading district, Nepal, where UMN has been active for almost 20 years. Trucks, tractors and helicopters are being used to distribute relief items to families in villages that have been hard hit by the earthquake that are difficult to access due to damaged roads and landslides. Some families have walked three to four hours for supplies because that is the closest the trucks and helicopters could get to them, as many of the villages are only accessible by foot. </p><p>In Chimchok, food packs, utensils and hygiene kits have been distributed to 723 households. </p><p>Over the course of seven helicopter flights, food packs were distributed to 144 households in four villages of Jharlang and two villages of Lapa. The walking paths in these areas have even been destroyed due to broken suspension bridges and landslides. </p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/People%20lined%20up%20to%20receive%20relief%20distribution%20in%20Jeevanpur,%20Dhading.%20Credit%20-%20UMN.jpg" alt="People lined up to receive relief distribution in Jeevanpur, Dhading. Credit - UMN.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /></p><p><em style="font-size&#58;12px;">People line up to receive relief distribution in Jeevanpur, Dhading. Credit - UMN</em><br></p><p>UMN's hospitals in Tansen and Okhaldhungaare have not sustained major earthquake damage, so they are both functioning beyond full capacity. All of the beds in each hospital are full, and some beds are being set up in training halls and a new hospital building that is still in the process of being constructed. Some shelters have been constructed outdoors, since some patients are nervous to stay indoors due to continued aftershocks and the fear of another quake. </p><p>We give thanks for our wonderful partners and we are grateful to be working with these trusted and experienced organizations to assist people who have been affected by the Nepal earthquakes. More distributions are scheduled and plans are underway to continue reaching people who are living in remote areas. As the immediate relief process moves forward, assessments are also being made for long-term response and the rebuilding phase that will follow. </p><p>Please continue to hold the people who have been impacted by these earthquakes in your prayers. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in Nepal, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/donations/nepalearthquake?_ga=1.197419183.1404219041.1427831746">Nepal Area Earthquake giving page</a>. </p><p>Follow Lutheran Disaster Response on <a href="https&#58;//www.facebook.com/LutheranDisasterResponse">Facebook</a> and <a href="https&#58;//twitter.com/elcaldr">Twitter</a> for more updates.</p></div>05/15/2015Second major earthquake hits NepalMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/298http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/298<div class="ExternalClassCA87B6287D574BB58FB6785F69772946"><p><span style="font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Just a little more than two weeks after thousands of people died in the massive earthquake that struck on April 25, a second earthquake hit Nepal. </span></p><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;"></span><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Around 12&#58;50 p.m. local time today, May 12, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal approximately 47 miles northeast of its capital, Kathmandu – an area already affected by the April 25 earthquake. The earthquake, while still considered an aftershock of the previous quake, was followed by several strong aftershocks that continue to be felt in the region. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/second%20earthquake%20location.png" alt="second earthquake location.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;407px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size&#58;12px;"><em>Photo courtesy of UN OCHA</em></span><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;"></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">As of publication time, at least 66 people are reported dead and at least 1,261 people are injured following today’s quake. These numbers may rise as there are many reports of people trapped beneath rubble. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Similarly to the April 25 earthquake, today’s earthquake affected surrounding countries, with reports of loss of life, injury and structural damage in India and Tibet. Landslides were reported in the Himalayas. Many villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu have been severely affected by the earthquake, and they are only accessible on foot, making it difficult to carry out relief efforts. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Houses and buildings that were damaged from the previous earthquake have now collapsed after today’s quake, and new damage to homes and infrastructure is being reported across many of Nepal’s districts. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">People are once again leaving their homes to camp out in any available space outside while aftershocks continue and fear of another large earthquake runs rampant. &#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">This level and frequency of seismic activity is not unprecedented, especially in the region of Nepal. The U.S. Geological Survey predicted about a week ago that there was at least a 50 percent chance of a second strong earthquake. Every quake and aftershock causes disruption, which means that tremors will once again increase in frequency and intensity and could take weeks or months to die down. This activity is cause for concern as monsoon season in the region is quickly approaching. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Lutheran Disaster Response was already working with our partners, The Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran World Relief and United Mission to Nepal, to assist in the recovery from the April 25 earthquake when today’s quake hit. All of our partners have reported that they are safe, and the initial recovery work continues while assessments are being made to determine how the response will now expand to include needs from the recent earthquake. &#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">This is a time of uncertainty and fear for the people of Nepal and its surrounding countries, and we hold them in our prayers as we walk with them through every phase of this disaster recovery process. Our work will continue and grow to assist those who need it most.<br></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">To join in the response, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/donations/nepalearthquake?_ga=1.205816211.1404219041.1427831746">Nepal Area Earthquake response page</a>. Your gifts will be used in full (100 percent) to assist in the growing need for recovery projects as seismic activity in the region continues. </span></p></div>05/12/2015