ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/7.8 magnitude earthquake hits Nepal and surrounding countriesMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/296http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/296<div class="ExternalClass2D85E17DB2C248349ADFDDD0E5889BC1"><p>​Around 11&#58;55 a.m. local time, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, with its epicenter approximately 70 km from its capital city, Kathmandu. The earthquake was felt around the whole country, but the Kathmandu valley and western region of the country were hit hardest. </p><p class="MsoNormal">As of publication time, approximately 1,500 people are reported dead and thousands are injured. Death toll numbers are expected to rise as searches continue because it is feared that many people are trapped beneath rubble. Buildings are leveled, roads are destroyed and many heritage sites and landmarks are collapsed, including the Dharahara Tower, which was built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/nepal%20earthquake%201.jpg" alt="nepal earthquake 1.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;198px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><em>Collapsed building and surrounding damage in Nepal following 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country early April 25. Photo courtesy of LWF.</em><br></p><p class="MsoNormal">The earthquake also triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing 13 people. More than 25 aftershocks have been recorded in the Kathmandu Valley and neighboring countries, causing people to spend the night outside in the open as a precaution. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response is working with trusted partners – Lutheran World Federation, ACT Alliance and Lutheran World Relief – who are on the ground and already responding. Immediate response includes supplies and services such as water, food, medication, shelter and psychosocial support. We continue to connect with other partners and our companion church, the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church, for updates and response plans.</p><p class="MsoNormal">“ELCA partners were in contact as soon as the news flashed,” says Chandran Paul Martin, consulting regional representative for South Asia, ELCA Global Mission. “Dr. Bijaya Bajracharayna, program coordinator for Lutheran World Federation in Nepal, described the situation of people on the street and open ground as after tremors were felt.”</p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response is committed to long-term response, and we will accompany our brothers and sisters who were affected by the earthquake as they navigate every process of the disaster relief and recovery process. </p><p class="MsoNormal">If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work with the Nepal Area Earthquake, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/donations/nepalearthquake?_ga=1.259509514.1404219041.1427831746">giving page</a>. Your gifts allow us be the church in times of disaster, and we thank you for your generosity. Please continue to remember the people of Nepal and surrounding countries who were affected by the earthquake in your thoughts and prayers.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Merciful God,</p><p class="MsoNormal">Hear our cry for mercy in the wake of the earthquake. Reveal your presence in the midst of our suffering. Help us to trust in your promises of hope and life so that desperation and grief will not overtake us. Come quickly to our aid that we may know peace and joy again. Strengthen us in this time of trial with the assurance of hope we know in the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. <br></p></div>04/25/2015International Roma Day 2015Megan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/295http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/295<div class="ExternalClass1EB688CFF84947D49C1056DA325AB644"><p>The Romani, or Roma, population has an extensive history in Europe, dating back to the 13<sup>th</sup> century. Today, with more than 10 million people, the Roma population is recognized as one of the European Union's largest minority groups. Roma people often face discrimination and poverty, and Roma settlements typically lack important infrastructures such as healthcare, education and transportation. </p><p>Today, April 8, is International Roma Day. It is a day to celebrate the rich culture of the Roma people, to raise awareness about the difficulties facing Roma people and to fight for justice. </p><p>Lutheran Disaster Response, in partnership with Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization (EHO), <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/293">has been working hand-in-hand with Roma people since May 2014</a>, when a cyclone hit Serbia and many Roma villages were severely affected by landslides and flooding. We initially helped provide immediate relief resources, and we are now working in the communities on home rehabilitation and livelihood development. </p><p>While several Roma settlements were impacted by the cyclone in 2014 in Serbia, Roma people are often marginalized and live in areas that are difficult to travel around, so they received little assistance. Lutheran Disaster Response is committed to working with people who are most vulnerable to disasters, and we are pleased to be working with Roma people in Serbia to rebuild villages and increase capacity and resiliency. </p><p>In honor of International Roma Day, here is a story from EHO of a family we have worked with following the 2014 cyclone and flooding in Serbia. </p><p><em>Husband and wife S.J. (60) and N.J. (59), both disabled, lived in an apartment without electricity for 10 years. After that, they were given accommodation in shelters composed of a single room and bathroom, but they now had electricity and so were happy with the move. The shelters were in the village of Veliki Crljeni, 12km from the town of Lazarevac, and functioned as accommodation for socially vulnerable families, provided by the town authorities and the Kolubara power company. </em></p><p><em>That May morning, when the waters began to advance, N.J. was woken by neighbours. Her husband S.J. is hard of hearing and she needs crutches to get around, so they barely had time to take a bag with their documents and medicines and get out. The water was already coming into the apartment.</em><em>&#160; </em><em>They managed to get out with the neighbours at the last minute and flee to a nearby hill in the direction of the school, where they were accommodated temporarily. </em></p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/roma%20family.jpg" alt="roma family.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;262px;" /></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; S.J. and N.J. stand in front of their temporary shelter where they now live after flooding in May 2014 damaged their home.</em><br><em></em></p><p><em>After a couple of days, the police and fire service transferred them to the sports centre, and they lived in a sports hall for almost six months. Now they are in temporary accommodation again, in different shelters, awaiting a more permanent solution.</em><em>&#160; </em></p><p>With Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization, we provided the family a stove so that they could cook and have means to warm their home while they stay in the temporary shelter. The cyclone and flooding in Serbia occurred almost one year ago, but there is still a lot of recovery and rebuilding that is needed. We will continue to work alongside the Roma population as they navigate this process.</p><p>We ask that you hold the Roma people in your prayers today and every day – pray that their culture is shared through stories and actions of reconciliation and justice. &#160;</p></div>04/08/2015Storm Shelter Pilot Project: Providing physical and emotional security in Tornado AlleyMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/294http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/294<div class="ExternalClassBCB53BEFFCA74D62BA361581E5D53DEF"><p><span style="font-size&#58;14.6667px;">​The sky turns green, then black. Heavy rains subside and there is calm before the sudden shift in wind. The severe weather sirens start sounding as an approaching tornado is spotted. People quickly move to their basements or windowless rooms as they wait for the tornado to pass. <br></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;">This scene is not out of the ordinary for people living in Tornado Alley, a term coined in 1952 that is used to describe the region of the U.S. where tornadoes are most frequent. However, sometimes basements and windowless rooms do not provide the peace of mind and safety desired against tornadoes, especially those ranking high on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">In an effort to provide the security that people who live in Tornado Alley need, Lutheran Disaster Response has partnered with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) and our affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS/S), to provide storm shelters for people in the Oklahoma City area.</span></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"><em>Pictured&#58; A storm shelter is installed on a slab in a family's backyard. </em><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;">One community that knows the effects of tornadoes too well is Moore, Okla. On May 20, 2013, an EF5 tornado hit Moore, killing 24 people and injuring more than 300. The storm caused severe damage, and clean-up and rebuilding are still continuing today. Over the years, the area around Oklahoma City, including Moore, has been hit with numerous tornadoes. The emotional toll tornadoes have on people in this area leave many fearful this time of year. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">To date, 145 storm shelters have been installed in the Lutheran Disaster Response and FLASH joint-Pilot Program. Coordinators in the region have been working with long-term recovery groups in the Oklahoma City area to connect with the most vulnerable families who need a storm shelter.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">The storm shelters are installed on families’ properties so they can have peace of mind and safety from tornadoes right at home. For the pilot program, the selected storm shelters have either been made of concrete or steel and have been installed in garages, under garage floors with an access panel, outside in the yard, or as fixtures in new homes that are currently being constructed. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">There are many factors that come into play when families select which storm shelter is right for them. Tim Smail, senior vice president of engineering and technical programs for FLASH, explains that a flowchart is used to help families choose their storm shelter. The flowchart includes considerations such as the number of people the storm shelter will need to hold, if the storm shelter has to be handicap accessible and what kind of space is available in potential install locations. &#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">Lutheran Disaster Response and FLASH have partnered with the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) to make certain that the safe rooms being installed in the pilot program are of the highest quality and have passed standard testing.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">“The association works hand-in-hand with our point of contacts on the ground to ensure client needs are met and that the shelters are installed properly,” Smail says.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">While people who live in tornado-prone areas know the importance of having a safe place to go in times of severe weather, knowing who to work with and having the resources to install a storm shelter can be daunting. The average cost to install a safe room is approximately $4,700, but can range from $4,000 to $10,000, depending on the size and accommodations needed for the family. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">“Whatever the situation, most of the people we have worked with are not in a position to afford a storm shelter,” says Grant Gatschet, program director with LSS/S for the Storm Shelter Pilot Program. “Across the board, they have all expressed sincere thanks for the program for helping them feel safe and secure in their homes.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-size&#58;14.6667px;">As the pilot program wraps up, Lutheran Disaster Response and FLASH are working to make storm shelter installation an embedded part of tornado disaster recovery. &#160;With guaranteed safety and peace of mind, storm shelters are life-saving and life-changing.</span></p></div>03/30/2015Serbia: Post-flood rehabilitationMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/293http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/293<div class="ExternalClassD4061CF9547049DC9306F415DF5BB966"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Roma%20population.jpg" alt="Roma population.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;223px;" /></p><p>On May 13, 2014, a cyclone hit Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, resulting in widespread, record flooding and landslides. Overall, approximately 1.6 million people were impacted by the cyclone and the flooding and landslides that followed. <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/258">Last spring</a>, Lutheran Disaster Response worked with Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization to provide immediate relief resources, which included food, personal health and hygiene supplies, disinfection equipment and tools.</p><p class="MsoNormal">The emergency phase of the disaster has passed, but there is still a lot of work to be done, especially with housing. Serbia was hit hardest by the severe weather, with 200 collapsed homes, more than 18,000 damaged homes and approximately 32,000 people who had to evacuate. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The Roma settlement in Mišar, City of Šabac, in western Serbia was greatly affected by the floods. There are approximately 500,000 people who make up the Roma population in Serbia, and they generally live in worse conditions than the rest of the population due to discrimination, employment exclusion and poverty. The poor living conditions mean that these people are more vulnerable to larger damages caused by disasters. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response is again working with Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization to assist in rehabilitating homes and improving livelihoods for Roma families in Mišar that were affected by the floods. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Home rehabilitation assistance will be owner-driven, so primary resources provided will be technical support and tools and construction materials. Assistance to revive and increase livelihood opportunities will consist of assessing the current situation, identifying self-employment opportunities, creating documentation for start-up grants and building capacity through business plans for income-generating projects. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Special attention will also be given to mobilizing resources and raising awareness around disaster-risk reduction and resiliency. </p><p class="MsoNormal">We will continue to accompany our brothers and sisters in Serbia who are still dealing with the after-math of last year’s flooding. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in Serbia, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">giving page</a>.</p></div>03/13/2015Honduras: Support for returning child migrantsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/292http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/292<div class="ExternalClassB6EFA52B76214B92AB012C808E648503"><p>​The Honduran government declared a national state of emergency upon the recent mass return of Hondurans, specifically children, who are being sent back from Mexico and the United States. The assistance of several civil society and humanitarian organizations has been requested to provide accompaniment during the reception of the returning children.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response is working with Mennonite Social Action Commission (CASM) to help provide humanitarian assistance to 1,000 returning child migrants. Immediate attention will be given to helping the children reunite with their families and to accompany them through the legal process of filing complaints in cases that involve human trafficking, sex trafficking and physical and psychological violence. Food and hygiene kits will be distributed to children as they are received and while they stay in temporary shelters waiting to be reunited with family. Psychosocial support will also be provided, and special accompaniment will occur for cases that merit extra attention.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Each child’s well-being is the primary concern, and necessary support will be provided to ensure a safe reunion for the children and their families. </p> </div>03/06/2015Madagascar: Tropical Cyclone Chedza and severe floodingMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/291http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/291<div class="ExternalClass3E23587381F546019BF0B3E4E8ED8EC0"><p>On Jan. 16, Tropical Cyclone Chedza hit the southwestern part of Madagascar in the Menabe and Melaky regions. Heavy rainfalls followed, which caused severe flooding in most parts of the country. Approximately 174,000 people were affected by the disaster, and 80 people died.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response has committed an initial $35,000 and is working with the Malagasy Lutheran Church to assist 1,000 families in Morondava and Mahabo communities who were affected by the cyclone and flooding. Assistance will be for urgent food and non-food items, as well as psychosocial support. Food being distributed consists of rice, oil and beans, and non-food materials include blankets and hygiene items. Attention for distribution will be toward those who are most vulnerable, specifically families who are displaced, people with disabilities, elderly parents and female heads of households. The church will be working with people to provide support and disaster-risk training to help increase the resiliency of the communities.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Please join us in praying for the people in Madagascar who have been affected by the severe weather. We also pray for continued safety and preparedness as the cyclone season continues in the region. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in Madagascar, please visit the Lutheran Disaster Response giving page.</p> </div>03/02/2015