I’ve been asked several times the last couple of days, by email, Facebook and Twitter, how can we best help these folks and these congregations?
There are several stages of a disaster. For simplicity’s sake let’s say Stage I is search and rescue. Stage II is short-term recovery. Stage III is long-term recovery.
In Stage I, there is not much that can be done. The first 72 hours of the disaster you’re on your own. The most helpful people during this time are first responders.
In Stage II, short-term recovery, cash is king. Financial gifts are portable and fast. They also allow people to get what they need, rather than receiving things we want to send them. LDR and LSS are great partners. They do case management that helps hose in need. To help local congregations to get back on their feet and serve their neighborhood, you can give to the TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod (12941 I-45 North Freeway, Suite 210, Houston, Texas 77060.) Mark your check “Isaac.” You may donate electronically HERE. 100% of these gifts will go to direct needs. Sometimes visits can begin to take place in this stage, to muck out houses and assist in other recovery efforts.
In Stage III, long term recovery, people are in for the long haul. Often times national attention is no longer on the situation, and even the press have moved on to other disasters, but the recovery continues. When the relief organizations pull up stakes and understandably need to move on to other disasters, the local church is still there slugging away. This is a great time to bring a group down for a work project. More important than the help is the moral support. Four of our congregations in New Orleans have bunks and showers (Gethsemane in Chalmette, Grace in New Orleans, Peace in Slidell and Bethlehem in New Orleans). They have been hosting groups for years. It’s a great place to bring a group to learn and serve.
I hope this is helpful. If you need help sorting through all this, or need a connection in New Orleans, give our synod office a call at 281-873-5665 or contact us at synod.