Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

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

Transitions

Dec 15, 2014

One thing I have learned about disaster response work: change is constant. We talk about times of transition and those times seem to be a constant occurrence. Changing seasons and anniversaries, however, mark significant times of transition. Therefore, this winter, we see funding expiring, programs ending, and people moving on to other jobs in other locations. Thankfully, at the same time, we welcome new partners in our efforts, while some old partners adapt to the changing landscape as well.

In this third year of response to Superstorm Sandy, we will see many major national organizations leaving the recovery effort. The Red Cross has already pulled most of their attention from our area, although they continue to provide some funding for others to continue their work. Organizations that assist with reconstruction of homes, such as the Southern Baptists, expect to leave at the end of the summer.

 

Meanwhile, organizations that until now have had little input into the recovery efforts have begun to bring their expertise to bear. I see this mostly in the area of emotional and mental health. Those who will carry out the long-term recovery will be local organizations and individuals rather than the major national groups. Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRG) in Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island work to bring together these organizations so that communication, collaboration, cooperation, and coordination can continue for the benefit of affected residents and communities.

 

In some areas, such as Patchogue, Massapequa, Lindenhurst, Long Beach, Roosevelt, Mastic, and Staten Island, Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) have begun to form. COADs provide a forum for local organizations to maintain contact and prepare for future disasters. When a disaster strikes, COADs can mobilize resources more quickly because systems of communication and collaboration are already in place. In addition, through Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), COADs participate in a network of response organizations that can bring greater resources from other areas when needed.

 

Our congregations can bring their own resources to the table by participating in the LTRGs and COADs in their areas. The church has an important role to play in disaster response and recovery, and preparedness. We bring our selves, our buildings and our network of congregations in the synod and the ELCA as assets to respond to disasters here and around the world.