Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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May 2013 Archive for Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

Disaster relief coordinator Pastor Craig Miller shares disaster relief information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Progress report

May 15, 2013

Superstorm Sandy struck our shores just over six months ago. Wind and waves brought destruction and damage to lives, homes and properties. Among those properties damaged were six Metro New York Synod churches. Initial assessments indicated that it would take well over $500,000 to repair the damage. For some, the task of cleaning up and making the necessary repairs appeared impossible. Today, the picture is much different.


Sandy's winds ripped shingles from the roof of St. Peter's in Greenport. The congregation quickly learned that their insurance set their deductible as a percentage of the property value, well above the cost to repair. They made temporary repairs and set about finding ways to pay for a new roof. Today the congregation has made plans to fix the roof, after which they will proceed with plans to install solar panels, a project delayed by the storm damage. The solar project will provide electricity to the church so they will save on their utility bills.


St. John's by the Sea in Long Beach saw more than four feet of water in the church basement, destroying walls, floors, furniture and appliances in their kitchen, office and meeting space and damaging their elevator. Even while working to repair the building, St. John’s served as host to several groups that were flooded out of their usual locations. Thanks in large part to community volunteers and Jeff Peterson, a member of Our Savior's, Glen Head who organized work crews, the space has been largely rebuilt. The church has begun to think about what furniture and appliances they need for their office and kitchen.


In Howard Beach, Queens, St. Barnabas sustained extensive damage to the basements of both the church and parish hall. Repairs were initially estimated at over one quarter million dollars and will likely cost much more. The congregation has applied for and received some funding for their repairs. They have nearly finished the parish hall basement and have opened the space for use by community groups. In the church basement, electrical wiring has been replaced and walls restored. They are also in the process of relocating their electrical service from the flood-prone basement to the upper level. As with St. John's, this congregation has also begun to consider their need for kitchen appliances and furniture. They had to dispose of nearly all of their tables and chairs, kitchen cupboards, a commercial stove, and refrigerator among other items.


Similarly, St. James in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, saw several feet of water flood their basement, destroying furniture and appliances in their kitchen, meeting rooms, and office. In addition, the winds tore shingles from their slate roof. It took some time for them to figure out how to begin their repairs. With some help from a contractor that had been staying in their empty parsonage and with assistance of neighbors, the congregation has treated their space for mold, replaced their electrical systems, and erected walls. Exterior doors that had been twisted with their frames are being replaced with more reinforcement. Hope has returned to this congregation.


St. Paul's, Coney Island is built on one level. When four feet of water swept through the building, every space was affected. Walls, doors, heating, electricity, floors, furniture, appliances and more became debris. Assistance from Immanuel, Manhattan has brought the church a long way toward recovery. New offices have been built and furnished; a new kitchenette, bathrooms, and a newly renovated sanctuary are all part of the recovery work.


Of all the churches to experience damage from Sandy, Trinity Lower East Side, Manhattan was quickest to recover. Food supplies for their feeding ministry that were destroyed by flood waters were quickly replaced and their elevator repaired, thanks to the many supporters of this valuable ministry.


A great deal of work remains to be done before our communities and our churches reach their goals for recovery from this storm. Still, we rejoice to see the progress that has been made in these churches. As our congregations recover, they can better serve their neighbors as centers of hope and healing after this storm and all the storms of life.


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