ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/Illinois: One year after the November tornado outbreakMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/279http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/279<div class="ExternalClass9E28FEAB0EBF474A86DD1A157FC8BBAC"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/damage%20in%20Washington%20from%20tornadoes.JPG" alt="damage in Washington from tornadoes.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;442px;" /></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; Damage in Washington, Ill., caused by November 2013 tornadoes. Augustino/FEMA</em><br></p><p>One year ago, on Nov. 17, 2013, a storm system that consisted of 73 tornadoes moved through the Midwest. Illinois was severely impacted—the tornado system that hit the state was the fourth deadliest and costliest to occur in Illinois with six deaths and more than $1 billion in damages. </p><p>Immediately after the storm, Lutheran Disaster Response began assessing the situation in collaboration with our affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Since then, thanks to your support, we have been active in case management work in the communities of Washington, Brookport and Gifford to help people who were impacted by the tornadoes navigate their way through the recovery process. </p><p><strong>A House after the Storm</strong></p><p>Ray and Marcina Warfield live in Brookport, Ill., where 44 homes were destroyed and 127 homes were damaged. At the time the tornado tore through their community, the Warfields were out of town visiting family. They were happy to have been safe from the storm, but when they returned, they saw that their mobile home had been destroyed in the tornado's path. </p><p>The Warfields applied for assistance with FEMA and initially planned to purchase another used mobile home. However, they changed their minds after meeting with a case manager through the long-term recovery group, which is supported in part by Lutheran Disaster Response. The Warfields' case manager suggested applying their resources toward a new home instead, which would provide them more security. Being in their 70s and having always lived in a mobile home, the Warfields were a little apprehensive, but they put their trust in the long-term recovery group. </p><p>Work crews and volunteers immediately began building the Warfields a new house on the property where their mobile home was. Every night, the Warfields would help out by cleaning the work site and throwing out trash. During the day, they spent time getting to know the crews working on their house and expressing their gratitude. In August, the Warfields' new home was dedicated and they moved in. </p><p>&quot;Never in our dreams did we think we would live in a real home,&quot; Marcina Warfield said.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Warfields%20from%20Brookport%20in%20front%20of%20their%20new%20home.jpg" alt="Warfields from Brookport in front of their new home.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /><br></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; Ray and Marcina Warfield stand in front of their new home in Brookport, Ill.</em><br></p><p>Thanks to your generosity, Lutheran Disaster Response has been active in Illinois to work with families, like the Warfields, who experienced loss from the tornadoes. We continue to work with the communities and provide case management to help those who were impacted adjust to their &quot;new normal.&quot; Thank you for your prayers and support for Lutheran Disaster Response and the communities of Washington, Brookport and Gifford. Please join us in giving thanks for the rebuilding that has happened and praying for continued recovery!</p></div>11/17/2014Ebola Outbreak: Food assistance in LiberiaMegan Brandsrud http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/278http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/278<div class="ExternalClassAC2D8604B87944CD987FF8F866286415"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/ebola-west-africa%20(LWF).jpg" alt="ebola-west-africa (LWF).jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;233px;" /></p><p>(<em>Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Federation)</em><br></p><p>The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to expand. There have now been more than 13,560 cases of infected persons and more than 4,950 deaths. While the disease itself continues to ravage communities and elicit fear and stigma, there are consequential impacts of the disease that are also severe, such as food shortage. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The closing of borders and sea ports and the decline in trade has left the region in a tough financial and food situation. Many farmers have abandoned their land out of fear, which has led to a decrease in food production and an increase in prices for the food that is available.</p><p class="MsoNormal">A report from the United Nations says that while the countries impacted with Ebola try to contain the virus, they are also facing a new hurdle with an approximate one million people in the region who are in need of food assistance. <span>&#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">In mid-September, Lutheran Disaster Response provided food assistance to our companion churches in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We are now again providing food assistance to our brothers and sisters in Liberia through our companion church, the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Approximately one thousand households in six targeted areas of Liberia will receive a month’s supply of oil, rice and fish. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Liberia continues to be the country that is struggling with the most cases of Ebola, and communities remain quarantined and families have been isolated. Bishop Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church in Liberia says that lack of food continues to be a main concern all over the country due to the fact that quarantines and isolations prevent people from being able to harvest or maintain a sustainable livelihood.</p><p class="MsoNormal">While the Ebola crisis continues to impact families in West Africa both directly and indirectly, Lutheran Disaster Response will continue to walk with our brothers and sisters. <span>&#160;</span>We pray for healing and comfort for those who are fighting this disease themselves. We pray for strength and protection for medical workers. God of life and love everlasting, hear our cries for mercy, comfort and help.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Please join us in praying for an end to this disease. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in the fight against Ebola, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/ebolaoutbreakresponse">Ebola Outbreak giving page</a>.</p> </div>11/13/2014Typhoon Haiyan - One Year LaterMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/277http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/277<div class="ExternalClass5DDB7D2555394531BCBCAC13DFDAE798"><p>​<img alt="One Year Later - rebuilding photo.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/One%20Year%20Later%20-%20rebuilding%20photo.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;246px;" /></p><p><em>(Photo&#58; Participants in a cash-for-work program help clean up debris in Tacloban, a city in the Philippines province of Leyte. ACT/Paul Jeffrey)</em><br></p><p>On Nov. 8, 2014, Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Typhoon Yolanda, crashed into the central Philippines. For the next several days, heavy rainfall and top-speed winds wreaked havoc on the region. The typhoon, one of the strongest recorded storms to ever make landfall, impacted 14 million people, took the lives of 6,300 people, damaged or destroyed 1 million homes and caused $2 billion in damages. </p><p>One year later, we take a look back at a busy year of recovering and rebuilding. Thanks to your generosity in giving almost $2.5 million and because of our network of partners on the ground in the Philippines, Lutheran Disaster Response has been active in the recovery since the very beginning. Just days after the typhoon made landfall, we began working with Lutheran World Relief to provide for emergency needs and to help people get back to their homes as soon as possible. Today, we are still in the Philippines and working with Lutheran World Relief and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to continue the recovery, restoring and rebuilding. &#160;</p><p><strong>Shelter</strong></p><p>With more than one million homes destroyed or damaged by the typhoon, almost fourmillion people were without shelter after the storm. Within 10 days of the storm making landfall, we were working with Lutheran World Relief to distribute shelter repair kits consisting of plywood, coco lumber, iron roofing sheets, nails, a hammer and a handsaw. Today, more than 26,700 people have received a shelter repair kit.</p><p><strong>Water</strong></p><p>The storm damaged many water systems, including those for sanitation and safe drinking water. During the past year, more than 240 community water filtration units have been installed and more than 88 wells have been constructed or repaired. In addition to restoring these public water systems, hygiene kits were delivered to more than 65,000 people. We continue our efforts as we work with partners to construct family latrines that will assist more than 11,000 people.</p><p><strong>Livelihood Rehabilitation </strong></p><p>Cash-for-work activities, such as debris removal or cleaning out irrigation canals, were implemented to give people an opportunity to help rebuild their communities while also earn income to provide for their families. Almost 24,000 people have participated. </p><p><strong>Non-Food Items</strong></p><p>While people's homes were damaged by the storm, so were their personal items inside their homes. Many non-food items such as kitchen sets, mosquito nets, baby-care kits and school kits were distributed immediately after the storm to help families with short-term needs. More than 16,000 people received a solar lamp, which serves not only as a light source but also a power-charging station that requires no electricity.</p><p><strong>Food</strong></p><p>Food shortage continues to be a major concern, even one year after the typhoon. Food sources were depleted after the storm and harvests were interrupted. Working with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, we will distribute food baskets with rations for two-week periods to more than 20,000 people through the end of January 2015, as needed.</p><p><strong>Resiliency </strong></p><p>While we continue to assist in the rebuilding and recovery after Typhoon Haiyan, we are also working with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines to help build resiliency with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. Together, we will construct two multi-purpose community centers and evacuation shelters that will serve as venues for disaster preparedness training workshops in non-disaster times.</p><p><strong>Recovery Continues</strong></p><p>The journey of recovery still has a long road, but together, we are making great accomplishments and progress every day. While we lift up prayers for the physical rebuilding that continues to take place in the Philippines, we especially say prayers for the continued emotional and spiritual healing that our brothers and sisters are going through as they remember their loved ones they lost and adjust to their new way of life after Typhoon Haiyan. Your gifts and prayers have made it possible for us to serve as church together during this time of need. Please continue to hold our brothers and sisters in the Philippines in your prayers as we embark with them on this next year of recovery.</p></div>11/07/2014Ebola Outbreak - Awareness and Prevention in Sierra LeoneMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/276http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/276<div class="ExternalClass06BEC2BDB46E42959A5EF308989A61C3"><p>​<img alt="Hand washing station in Sierra Leone.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Hand%20washing%20station%20in%20Sierra%20Leone.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;335px;height&#58;429px;" /></p><p>As of Oct. 29, 2014, Sierra Leone has had 5,235 documented cases of Ebola and 1,500 documented deaths. However, the World Health Organization says these numbers could be severely underestimated. Ebola transmission continues to be persistent in Sierra Leone, and all districts in the country have reported at least one confirmed or suspected case of Ebola since this outbreak began. </p><p>Since this outbreak is the first time that Ebola has impacted Sierra Leone, the people were not prepared or well-educated about the virus, its symptoms, and its means of transmission or prevention and containment methods. The lack of prior information and the spreading of misinformation has broken down trust and created alarming concern in communities. </p><p>Working with the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, Lutheran Disaster Response is helping create greater community awareness to help bring the Ebola crisis under control. Priorities are focused on building awareness, teaching prevention strategies, addressing myths related to Ebola and treatment facilities, building trust in communities, and providing support regarding anti-stigmatization.</p><p><strong>Companions in Response</strong></p><p>Many ELCA congregations and synods in the U.S. have joined in the fight against Ebola by showing solidarity, joining in prayer and raising funds. The ELCA's Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod has raised more than $85,000 to send supplies to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, the synod's companion church. To date, the synod has sent three containers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and Steramine, a highly-concentrated disinfectant, to Sierra Leone. Funds have also been used for food assistance.</p><p>&quot;People have been motivated to give to these projects because we know our friends in Sierra Leone face-to-face,&quot; says the Rev. Kevin Kanouse, bishop to the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod. &quot;We have met them; we have walked with them through their war and recovery. We know that loving our brothers and sisters is central to our call as disciples of Jesus and we find joy and purpose in helping in this way. We assure them that we are praying for them, and they pray for us, as well. They do not walk alone in this tragedy; they have our love and encouragement, and they have God's peace, love and hope.&quot;</p><p>While Ebola continues to impact Sierra Leone and other countries in West Africa, the disease is taking a toll on other aspects of life, including food security and healthcare regarding non-Ebola related illnesses. Please continue to hold West Africa in your prayers as we journey on in this fight against Ebola. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/ebolaoutbreakresponse">Ebola Outbreak Response, please visit the response giving page</a>.</p><p>(Pictured&#58; Hand-washing station during prevention training in Sierra Leone. <em>Photo courtesy of Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod.</em>)<br></p></div>11/03/2014Nebraska youth stands with New Jersey and continues Superstorm Sandy recoveryMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/275http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/275<div class="ExternalClass62AF56C1E3D646A2ACFC3228264CFD7E"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Nebraska%20Synod%20youth.jpg" alt="Nebraska Synod youth.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;262px;" /></p><p><em>(Pictured&#58; Nebraska Synod youth sporting Lutheran Disaster Response volunteer shirts as they embark on their volunteer projects.)</em><br></p><p>This July, more than 300 youth and chaperone volunteers from the ELCA Nebraska Synod ventured on a cross-country bus trip to New Jersey. As part of the synod's annual youth mission trip, the group spent a week in New Jersey to participate in on-going disaster recovery work from Superstorm Sandy. </p><p>&quot;The synod takes a trip every year, with every third year to the national youth gathering,&quot; said Kari Fry of St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, who helped plan the trip. &quot;In the recent past, the focus of the trips has been on mostly urban ministries. The synod hasn't gone to a place of natural disaster since [Hurricane] Katrina, and we felt that this was an important experience for the youth to have.&quot;</p><p>Superstorm Sandy struck the Jersey Shore in October 2012, and recovery work has been on-going ever since. Lutheran Disaster Response has been working with Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey (LSMNJ) to assist in the long-term response. While Superstorm Sandy is no longer receiving national media attention, the destruction and devastation caused by the storm is still very prevalent in the communities that were impacted. </p><p><strong>Door-to-door recovery</strong></p><p><br>Amy Pennenga, disaster recovery coordinator for LSMNJ, has been driving the Superstorm Sandy recovery projects and was very excited to receive this large group of volunteers. </p><p>&quot;This is definitely the largest group of volunteers I've worked with,&quot; Pennenga said. &quot;We started planning the trip a year in advance, which allowed me enough time to find communities where they could work and have housing during their stay.&quot;</p><p>Working with a group this large allowed Pennenga to get creative and plan projects that she usually doesn't have enough volunteers to cover. </p><p>&quot;Some of the volunteers participated in rebuilding homes, cleaning up a camp and working in a food pantry,&quot; Pennenga said. &quot;The majority of the group, 250 of them, worked on a canvassing project, handing out flyers for the long-term recovery group in the community and asking people what they needed. They gathered information, such as how many homes have been elevated and how many homes still need repair. This canvassing is something we've wanted to do for a long time, but we never had enough people. This group made it possible.&quot;</p><p><strong>&quot;New Jersey is Still Recovering&quot;</strong></p><p>On the group's last evening in New Jersey, they all donned red shirts and converged on the boardwalk with a large banner that said, &quot;We Are With You – New Jersey is Still Recovering.&quot; Gathered all together on the boardwalk, the group sang &quot;Lean on Me&quot; while people from the community watched and were filled with emotion. </p><p>&quot;We saw one older lady crying,&quot; Pennenga said. &quot;Her home had been destroyed by [Superstorm] Sandy and she was still struggling with the rebuilding process and she felt like everyone had forgotten. She said it was so encouraging to see this group of people from several states away acknowledge the work that still needs to be done.&quot;</p><p>Fry also expressed the community's reaction. </p><p>&quot;Everyone was so gracious and grateful,&quot; Fry said. &quot;Our goal was to draw attention to the reality that recovery is still on-going. Whether someone is a New Jersey resident, neighbor or from states far away, people need to know that their help is still needed and will be needed for years to come.&quot;</p><p>Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey accepts volunteers year-round and while the focus of work is on home rebuilding, volunteers do not need to be skilled. </p><p>&quot;We are very much in need of volunteers,&quot; Pennenga said. &quot;We conservatively still have one thousand homes left to rebuild after already doing 500. It is overwhelming for the people here. There were so many people impacted and it's easy for people to get lost in the cracks. We fight every day to make sure that the most vulnerable don't get forgotten in the crowd.&quot;</p><p>If you are interested in volunteering in New Jersey, please contact Amy Pennenga of Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey at <a href="mailto&#58;apennenga@lsmnj.org">apennenga@lsmnj.org</a> or 609.699.4137.</p></div>10/13/2014Iraq: Assistance for Displaced PopulationsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/274http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/274<div class="ExternalClass89C771EB0DAB429C89658B8C783C48FF"><p>​Iraq has one of the largest populations of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in the world. Recent dramatic events have seen armed groups take over large portions of the north and west of Iraq, driving many people from their homes and into the Kurdish Region. While the Kurdish Regional Government has received these IDPs, there are simply not enough resources to go around. Food and water have been identified as urgent needs of most of the IDPs.</p><p><img alt="Iraq IDPs.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Iraq%20IDPs.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;" /><br></p><p>Working with the Lutheran World Federation and other local partners, Lutheran Disaster Response is helping provide immediate assistance to displaced populations and their host communities in Northern Iraq. Securing water supply and food will help to relieve suffering and allow us to care for and walk with our brothers and sisters who are being impacted by this violence. Approximately 12,500 IDP families and their host communities will have clean and sufficient water supply, and 2,500 IDP families will have food security for two months. </p><p>In addition to providing assistance for physical care, there is also a need for emotional care. In the midst of or after fleeing the conflict, many of the IDPs experienced trauma, such as violence, rape or personal loss. Working again with our partners, Lutheran Disaster Response is providing psychosocial support to people who have been impacted by the conflict.</p><p>While the vulnerable populations who fled their homes still do not feel it is safe to return, we will continue to listen and walk with them to provide hope and healing. Join us as we pray for peace in the region and safety for all.</p><p>(Photo courtesy of ACT Alliance/Christian Aid)<br></p></div>10/06/2014