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May 2014 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.

Reflections on Sandy after 18 months, by guest blogger Pastor Harvey von Harten

May 28, 2014

What did we learn and of what did we become more aware in these last days?

  • All things work together for those who love the Lord.
  • Friendship and generosity flow from the deep roots of pleasant memories.
  • Water has its dark side even for the faithful.
  • Some of the faithful were content to be present every Lord’s Day.
  • Living on the 17th floor without functioning elevators for months is the pits.
  • We received generous monetary gifts from Metro New York Synod faithful, from friends, from strangers, from a pastor and his congregation in New Orleans still healing from their own Hurricane damage.
  • It takes a long time to dry out 100 years of paper church records, by hanging them from string "clothes line."
  • It takes more time to accomplish the many tasks of operating a congregation when work space is one-quarter of the area of the former office space.
  • Dry cleaning 50 years of acquired paraments and vestments can get expensive.
  • Worship for a year without musical accompaniment, and six more months with an electric keyboard lacks something. We are in a queue for organ installation.
  • We are still not done putting the building and the congregation back together.
  • When I was in elementary school, our family lived in the basement as my father continued to work building the first and second floors. When it rained, and particularly when Hurricane Hazel hit us, we put all the bowls, pots and containers we had to catch the water and we sat in candlelight waiting.
  • I am glad our church roof did not drip a drop.
  • All are welcome to visit the new St. Paul’s Evangelical Church of Coney Island at West 8th Street and Neptune Ave. Sunday Worship at 11am. Wednesday Evening Prayer 6:30pm is followed by Good Questions and Better Answers.

Rev. Harvey W. von Harten, Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Evangelical Lutheran Church of Coney Island

Ms Anna M. Haye, Deacon


Ensuring that nobody is forgotten

May 19, 2014

I recently attended a meeting of the Long Island Long Term Recovery Group Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Committee brings together representatives from organizations concerned with volunteer recruitment and coordination in order to help communities recover from Sandy and Irene.


One report at the meeting came from the LTRG Call Center. While not directly related to volunteer recruitment and coordination, the Call Center has been reaching out to members of communities affected by Sandy, following up on contacts made early in the recovery effort. Their efforts help to locate where volunteers are needed.


The Call Center representatives told of people feeling forgotten, as if the storm's effects have gone away. They shared the story of a woman and her 8-year old son still struggling to recover from the storms. The apartment in which they first lived was flooded in Hurricane Irene so they moved a short distance inland. One year later, Sandy's storm surge filled their new apartment. After two storms, the child shows clear signs of PTSD. When the Call Center contacted her, she was able to share her story. The Call Center directed her to resources for children and other resources. By the end of the call, she could express her relief that she truly was not forgotten.


The Long Term Recovery Group works to ensure that nobody is forgotten. Through the Call Center, Disaster Case Management and volunteer coordination, the LTRG reaches out into communities to find those most vulnerable and walk with them toward recovery. Volunteers are an important part of the LTRG work. To volunteer with the LTRG in Long Island visit the Long Island Volunteer Center Sandy Recovery section - and sign up for their newsletter to keep informed of future volunteer opportunities.



The need for Long Term Recovery Groups

May 12, 2014

In the first months after Superstorm Sandy, Long Term Recovery Groups started to meet in the five boroughs and in Long Island. The first LTRG to have a strong organization was in Long Island where they had been organizing in response to Hurricane Irene. Member agencies and organizations came together to collaborate and coordinate their efforts for the sake of those who had survived the storm and needed assistance to clean up and make repairs to their homes and lives.


FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons worked tirelessly in the five boroughs to identify and draw together voluntary organizations which would form the LTRGs in each borough. Those who came together in the Bronx and Manhattan (Lower East Side) quickly turned their focus to resiliency and preparedness for future disasters while Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island--each having extensive damage in shorefront communities--brought together organizations focused on clean-up and home reconstruction.


Over the past 18 months, I have attended meetings of the LTRGs in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, watching and participating in the development of these groups, even to the point of being elected to chair the Brooklyn LTRG. In all the meetings, usually twice a month, I have struggled to contain my frustration with the process of developing a truly collaborative organization. Individual organization self-interest along with changing personnel has made organizing very difficult, as has differences of personality.


BrooklynLTRGBut good things come to those who wait. My own home borough of Brooklyn struggled for most of the first year to form its LTRG. Now, in the last three months, a new vigor has developed in the LTRG. Organizations that have given up on the LTRG have begun to return, more cooperation has become evident, conversations about improving collaboration through development of effective processes have grown and are showing results. Signs of hope abound at committee meetings and general assembly meetings.


The time it takes to develop a communicative, coordinated, cooperating, collaborative association of voluntary, faith and community based organizations is one of the factors that lead to a longer recovery. The disaster response community rightly encourages such associations not just after a disaster but for preparation before disaster strikes. The faster a LTRG can begin to marshal resources when disaster strikes, the sooner survivors can be helped to find their new life post-disaster.

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