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Disaster Response
LCC Staff and Volunteers Attend 2014 Lutheran International Disaster Response Conference Print E-mail
Conference This past week, LCC staff members Dianna Bonfield, Joel Moritz, Derek Kowalczyk, and volunteers Ed Boerman and Mike Flaherty attended Standing with Mercy in Times of Disaster, the 2014 Lutheran International Disaster Response Conference at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from September 23-26.

One of the highlights of the conference this year was the opportunity to meet the Presidents and some of the pastors from some of the countries where we responded to disasters in the past years.

Some of the countries represented were: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Lebanon, the Middle East, Mexico, the Philippines and Taiwan. Another highlight was to meet in person some of the people from local disasters in other districts that have only been reached by phone and to get an update from them about what is happening at the present time in those areas.

There were District Presidents, District Disaster Response Coordinators (DDRC) and District Disaster Response Team (DDRT) members from areas LCC has worked in the last few years, including: New England - Sandy Hook and Boston Bombing; New York - Hurricane Sandy; Texas District - plant explosion in West, Texas; Moore, Oklahoma & Oklahoma District office - tornado clean up; Joplin, Missouri - tornado clean up; Arkansas - tornado clean up; Colorado District - fires and floods; Nebraska District - tornado clean up in Pilger, Nebraska; and the South Wisconsin District - tornado clean up.

(Pictured above is DDRC Derek Lecakes of the Atlanta District with LCC staff members Joel Moritz and Dianna Bonfield)

As in all the disasters we respond to, people are the most important thing, listening to them and supporting them in their recovery; so too it was with this conference. There were a lot of papers and reports presented but the contact with people with whom we have worked with and ministered with was the most important part of the conference.

Support the disaster response work of LCC
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 16:25
 
Update from Napa, California Print E-mail
Napa When one thinks of Napa, California, they often envision a place of the affluent, at least that is what I thought before I came here. It is a place that the affluent come to visit or have second homes but that does not describe the majority of the population here.

Since arriving Thursday evening, we have taken the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs to hundreds of people and prayed with most about Jesus being a firm foundation when other foundations can be shaken or rattled.

We were with the Children at St. John’s Lutheran School where many children and parents are not able to sleep soundly for fear of another earthquake and being trapped in their room.

Upon visiting the Concordia Nursing home in Napa – where residents lost things from the shaking – we found that many were also fearful of being trapped in their rooms like several were after the earthquake hit.

Napa

On Friday evening we offered an open time at the church for members of the congregation and community. During this time people could come in a spend time with the Comfort Dogs and hear about the mercy and compassion of Christ Jesus.

A news station from San Francisco came out to do a story on the Comfort dogs that aired Friday evening on the news and also on the Saturday morning 8 a.m. news announcing we will be at St Johns Sunday morning.

On Saturday we started by spending time with members and community people at Mission Gardens at St. John Lutheran Trailer court where most of the people are elderly and retired.

Three trailers were completely destroyed by fires caused by the earthquake and over half of the others were rocked off of their foundations. Everyone told stories on how they struggled to try and make it out of their homes in the aftermath.

Napa

Most residents live on a fixed income with no insurance. Besides being there with the Comfort Dogs we handed out financial assistance to those in need.

While we have been here we have done personal family visits from requests sent to us.

We visited the Red Cross Shelter that has been set up for those in need of living assistance. The number of those staying at the shelter has increased each day as people’s homes have been condemned. Many of these families include children.

We spent time with families at the shelter who were scared and cannot sleep.

Later we went to the Veterans Home where we spent the late afternoon and evening with veterans suffering from memory loss and PTSD.

Both days – so many tears and stories – but what was rewarding was to see their scared faces turn to smiles when they spent time with the Comfort Dogs and we could pray with them. All were thankful that we came out to them to listen and be that presence of Jesus in this time of hurt and fear.

Thank you for all of your support, your prayers, and Compassion for those who suffer – wherever they live!

See Damage of Napa View Pictures from Napa Donate to the K-9 Napa Travel Fund
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 08:12
 
Thank You from Palatine to LERT Teams Print E-mail
Palatine Thank you Last weekend Palatine, Illinois, was hit with a microburst. The sustained winds caused many fallen branches and uprooted trees. Electricity was lost by many residents for several days after the storm.

In response to the storms, LCC deployed several LERT teams to help with those who were facing a large amount of clean-up due to the storm. On Wednesday, September 10, LCC received a couple "Thank You" notes from some homeowners who were affected and very appreciative of the work done over the weekend.

All,

Like many in Palatine, IL last weekend [9/5-9/6], we had some trees down at our house and a lot of work in front of us on Saturday. Then, a team from LCC showed up and got the most difficult tree cut up within an hour. I didn't catch all the volunteers' names (I remember Ken), but their help was much appreciated and it was a great outreach for our neighborhood.

Thank you very, very, much.
Chuck and Tina
Palatine, IL
Read a thank you note from another homeowner Support the LERT Teams and their Disaster Recovery work
Learn more about LERT
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:50
 
Update From Arkansas Tornado Print E-mail
Arkansas Update In April 2014, Central Arkansas was devastated by an EF4 tornado. There was damage as far as the eyes could see and little hope for the residents of the towns struck.

LCC deployed LERT teams to the area to help those who were hurting from the devastation of the storm.

One of those volunteers was Larry Zagorski, a LERT volunteer and chainsaw operator from Lord of Glory in La Fox. He led a chainsaw crew and removed trees from several properties. In June, Larry received a letter from one of those his team helped and recently shared it with LCC.

Read Letter Sent to Larry Zagorski
 
LERT Team of Calvary, Elgin Help Family Remove Limbs After Microburst Print E-mail

Sharon Fajardo, co-captain of the Elgin LERT team and member of Calvary, Elgin sent this update of the team's response to the recent Elgin storms:

The Elgin LERT Team responded to the requests from two members of Good Shepherd for help to clean up after the micro-bust downed trees in their yards. After further evaluation, one family decided to go with a licensed contractor. The other, however, greatly appreciated our help in removing several broken limbs that were hanging precariously over their roof. The Team got what they could; unfortunately, due to lack of equipment necessary to reach the higher branches there were a few higher branches left hanging.

Dave Vollrath, a chainsaw operator of the Elgin team and member of Good Shepherd, reported that he and members of the congregation worked at Good Shepherd cutting up a number of trees that came down at the church.

Support the LERT Teams and their Disaster Recovery work Click here to learn more LERT
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:21
 
LERT Teams Assist Storm-Damaged Elgin, Illinois Print E-mail
ElginThough not as extensive of damage in other areas, this LERT team, led by LCC staff member Roger Pollock, Pastor Mark Bestul of Calvary, and Pastor Steven Maske of Good Shepherd, quickly aided those in need of relief. Thank you to all the LERT members and pastors who quickly went to spread Christ compassion and mercy after such a storm.

Click here to donate and help support the Disaster Response work of Lutheran Church Charities
Last Updated on Monday, 15 September 2014 20:12
 
LERT Teams Deploy After Damaging Microburst in Palatine Print E-mail
Palatine Damage This past Friday afternoon, September 5th, a storm front rolled through Northern Ill District causing damage in a number of communities. One of the hardest hit communities was Palatine, Illinois where a microburst downed and damaged hundreds of trees in that community.

Lutheran Church Charities deployed LERT volunteers from 12 congregations to assist the Palatine LERT Team and members of Immanuel, Palatine with cutting downed trees, moving felled brush and debris to the curb. Over the two days, Saturday 9/6 and Sunday 9/7, 68 volunteers (35 of which were from Immanuel) assembled to create the chainsaw crews which worked on 38 job sites. Each home had trees that needed to be removed.

Palatine

    The other LERT volunteers came from the following congregations:

  • Cross,Yorkville
  • St. Peter, Schaumburg
  • St. John, Wheaton
  • Calvary, Elgin
  • St. Matthew, Hawthorn Woods
  • St. Peter, Arlington Heights
  • Immanuel, Dundee
  • Immanuel, Belvidere
  • Peace, Lombard
  • Mt. Greenwood, Chicago

Two of the volunteers came from as far away as St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Bremen, Indiana and Christ Lutheran Church in Stevensville, Michigan.

In total for the two days those volunteers worked 191 hours. In most cases, LERT teams saved homeowners their deductible from their insurance policy to help focus costs of repairing damage to house or on vehicles.

Palatine

When the LCC LERT volunteers left on Sunday evening, two jobs remained for the Palatine LERT Team to finish on Monday. Since Monday morning, LCC has referred four more home owners to the Palatine Team to reach out and serve.

Palatine homeowners and LERT volunteer, Thank you for all that you have done and for the lives of people you have touched. As all of our LERT volunteers know, it is not about cutting up the trees, dragging brush and debris to the curb, it is about being the hands and feet of Jesus, touching hurting people and praying with them - showing the love and compassion to the people He loves.

View Pictures From Palatine Watch LERT Chainsaw Crews at Work Click here to donate and help support the Disaster Response work of Lutheran Church Charities
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 07:32
 
LCC Deployed to Three Different Locations Over the Weekend Print E-mail

LCC Deployed out this Week to: Joliet, Illinois; Morrison, Illinois; and Napa, California in Response to Disasters

Morrison, Illinois hit by Micro-burst

MorrisonFollowing the microburst that touched down in Morrison, Illinois on Monday, August 25, 22 LERT volunteers responded to the request from St. Peter Lutheran Church in Morrison for help to remove downed trees.

Volunteers came from the following congregations to help: St Peter, Morrison; Lord Of Life, La Fox; Cross Lutheran, Yorkville; St Peter, Schaumburg; King of Glory, Elgin; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dundee; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Belvidere; St John's, Lombard; Living Word, Orland Park; and Trinity Lutheran Church, Lisle.

The volunteers worked from Thursday, August 28 through Saturday, August 30. Over the three days they put in a total of 158 hours and worked at 6 homes.

Next weekend a small team will be heading out to Morrison to finish up some work at the Pastor's house on some difficult trees that are not completely removed. Thank you to all the members of St Peter and the volunteers who gave their time to be the hands and feet of Christ to those in the community.

Donate to the LCC Disaster Relief Fund

Napa, California, Hit By Severe Earthquake

From Tim Hetzner, President of LCC:

What a week with our Comfort Dogs in Napa working with the wonderful people at St. JohnNapa Veterans Home's Lutheran Church.

Before I arrived I figured we would find many people in very large homes who were shaken up because of the earthquake which hit on August 24, at 1:30 a.m Pacific time.

I found people who had been shaken up but they were not living in large homes, rather trailer parks, nursing homes, mid-sized homes, and for some no more home at all were where the majority of the people we helped resided.

After the earthquake they found themselves with items tossed around and damage to both the outside and inside of their homes. Many lost everything in the earthquake. We worked to bring Mercy and Compassion to ordinary people of all ages who suffered damage to their homes and who were fearful of the event and the possibility of it happening again.

Napa Luther

Due to the severity of the earthquake, several homes have been red-tagged by building inspectors. This means the structures are no longer safe and left people without a place to live.

Many Items in the homes were destroyed; much of it damaged when it was thrown to the floor by the quake. But in the midst of it all the Presence and Mercy and Compassion of Jesus Christ shown through.Napa Children

Our LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Teams were with hundreds of people; listening, praying, crying, and bringing assistance where needed.

We met with people from all walks of life, from trailer parks, schools, a 911 call center, fire and police departments, veteran homes, nursing homes, private homes, etc., and prayed with nearly all we came in contact with. Some even came to church on Sunday! Praise God.

Through my whole time there I kept thinking of the hymn - "The Church's One Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord". LCC along, with St. John's Lutheran Church, will continue to provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support for the people of Napa. That's what Christians do!

Read a letter from St. John's Lutheran Church about what it meant to them and their community to have the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs in Napa

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Psalms 89:14

Donate to the K-9 California Travel Fund
Donate to the K-9 Travel Fund
Donate to the LCC Disaster Relief Fund
Watch Video of Survivor Betty View Pictures from Napa

Sustained Winds Cause Damage in Joliet, Illinois

The evening of Sunday, August 24, two concentrated microbursts hit impoverished areas of Joliet, Illinois. On Thursday, August 28 and Saturday, August 30, LERT members from Cross Lutheran Church in Yorkville, Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Living Word Lutheran Church in Orland Park and St. John Lutheran Church in Wheaton were in the neighborhood to answer prayers.

Beginning with two jobs, more requests for help followed. In all, 10 households were alleviated the anxiety and concern of removing trees that had haunted them since the storm.

Joliet

The efforts of volunteers were a great blessing to a widow, Maria Sepeda, (pictured left), a stroke victim, a sufferer of herniated discs and retirees living on a very low, restricted income.

All totaled, over 155 hours were logged and close to $3,000 in costs were saved over the two days on the sites. These storms were not what many would consider a major disaster, but to those 10 households, they were.

Thank you to those LERT volunteers making a difference in truly spreading the comfort, compassion, presence and proclamation of Christ through your time and service.

Donate to the LCC Disaster Relief Fund View Photos of the Three-Day Clean-up
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 13:48
 
LERT team of Cross Lutheran in Yorkville Responds to Storm Damage for Members of Cross and a Sister Lutheran Church in Morris, Illinois Print E-mail
card

These past two weeks, Cross Yorkville and the LERT chainsaw volunteers from other congregations in the NID, CID and Indiana Districts have been a perfect example of the Districts' congregational LERT teams in action.

On June 30, a rash of thunderstorms and eight tornadoes whipped through the southern part of the Northern Illinois District. Two of those tornadoes touched down between Morris and the rural Yorkville area, damaging homes and downing trees. Monday, the LERT Team of Cross Yorkville received calls from three members of Cross and Peace Lutheran Church in Morris requesting assistance to remove the downed trees.

Homeowners insurance and the church's insurance would cover damage to the physical structures but would not cover cost of removing damaged trees. The cost of the removal ranges from three to four thousand each with a total of sixty trees in need of removal. The LERT team of Cross stepped up to make a difference.

In no time they realized that 60 trees, four of which were 4 feet in diameter, were far too much work for their small chainsaw crew to do. On July 3, LCC received a call from Pastor Erik Gauss requesting the assistance of additional chainsaw crew volunteers. At that late date, and the fact that it was the four day Fourth of July weekend holiday, we were uncertain of the response we would get. On July 4th, amidst the heat and the humidly, three additional volunteers from three different congregations joined the two chainsaw operators from Cross. That day that crew of five teams cleared away ten trees. Within nine days, 36 chainsaw volunteers from the following 12 congregations formed the crew from Cross to clear away the trees:

  • Immanuel - Belvidere, Illinois
  • Trinity - Bloomington, Illinois
  • St. Paul - Bremen, Indiana
  • Our Savior - Carol Stream, Illinois
  • Zion - Hinsdale, Illinois
  • Trinity - Lisle, Illinois
  • Peace - Lombard, Illinois
  • St. Luke - Montgomery, Illinois
  • LERT Team - Morris, Illinois
  • Immanuel - Palatine, Illinois
  • St John - Wheaton, Illinois
  • Cross - Yorkville, Illinois
  • St John's - Decatur, Illinois
  • Trinity - Roanoke, Illinois

Those 36 volunteers logged in 332 hours of service and saved Peace Lutheran Church and three families between $78,000 and $240,000 not covered by insurance.

One of the prized expressions of gratitude came from three little girls who watched the chainsaw team at work in their backyard as they drew and wrote the thank you card (pictured above) which says:

"Dear LERT, Thank you for taking care of some trees. I enjoyed watching it. Marcella
Timber! Timber!"
Click Here to Register to Help the Chainsaw Crews
Click Here to View Pictures from this Past Weekend
Click Here to Donate to the LCC Disaster Relief Fund
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 07:41
 
Pilger Nebraska Update Print E-mail
Pilger UPDATE: July 14, 2014

Since the dual tornadoes ravished the little rural community of Pilger, Nebraska, thousands of volunteers descended on the town bringing hope and assistance to clean up after the tornadoes. Within a two-week period of time, volunteers helped families salvage what they could, demolished remaining buildings and removed debris. By July 1, when all the disaster response groups that brought in the volunteers left, all that remained of Pilger were the foundation slabs where structures once resided.

Working through St. John Lutheran Church and with the Community of Pilger, Lutheran Church Charities continues to recruit and send teams of volunteers to bring hope and assist now with the reconstruction of any remaining structures. During the first two weeks in July, volunteer teams finished walking the fields picking up debris. As of this weekend the crops have grown too high to continue the walking of the fields.

Volunteer groups are still needed in Pilger. Volunteers will no longer be doing debris clean- up for they have now moved into the reconstruction and rebuilding phase. Volunteers are needed in three different areas. These areas include: helping repair damaged homes so that residents will be able to move back in, helping to prepare the cleared sites for the contractors to come in a begin rebuilding, and helping to landscape and build a memorial using the materials from the buildings that were destroyed.

New housing options have opened up for volunteers.

For teams that don't mind roughing it there is tent camping at the park in Pilger, which is right next door to the pool house where there are restrooms and showers.

In Pilger, four blocks from the pool house, a Bunkhouse has been set up (Orphan Grain Train has brought in one of their volunteer housing containers). The Bunkhouse can sleep a total of 12 people. It consists of two units that are equipped with electricity, air conditioning, heating and three sets of bunk beds.Volunteers staying at the bunkhouse have access to the restrooms and showers at the pool house as well. At the bunk house, grills are allowed for cooking meals but no open flame pits.

Another option that is now available is for groups from out of state is to stay at Our Savior Lutheran Church. To get in contact with them please use the following information:

OUR SAVIOR LUTHERAN CHURCH
Rev. Kenneth Weander Jr.
2500 W. Norfolk Ave., Norfolk, NE 68701-4427
(402)371-9005
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

If you're not sure you want to sleep on the floor, and have to "rough it" for the time you are there, you may still want to consider a hotel or motel.The following towns are 45 minutes or less from Pilger: Wisner, West Point, Wakefield, Pender, Oakland and Norfolk.

We do not charge for our services. We are Christians and offer our services in the name of Jesus Christ. We are serving through St John, Lutheran Church in Pilger. Even though the church's building and the parsonage no longer exist, please call St. John at 402-396-3478 the day before departing for further instructions and update of your arrival time.

For further questions contact Dianna Bonfield at 866-455-6466 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Click here to register as a volunteer
Click here to register a group
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 07:30
 
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