calendar October 31, 2012 in Disaster Response

Responding to Hurricane Sandy


A Message from Bishop Burkat: 

Now that Hurricane Sandy has passed, our hearts and prayers go out to all who have suffered loss of life, property, or have been traumatized by this historic storm. 

Let us pause to thank God for:

  • the selfless bravery of the first responders – firefighters, police officers and EMTs – who were God’s hands to rescue many people from harm’s way.
  • the medical staff into whose arms the injured were delivered; the doctors, nurses and aides who cared for those in hospitals through the worst of the storm.
  • the wisdom of public officials who ordered evacuations to move people from peril.
  • the power and recovery workers from across the country who have come to assist us here in the Northeast.

"12Sandy"In the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, the worst-case predictions did not come to pass. While there is significant property damage and loss of power, the catastrophic river and stream flooding that were forecast did not occur. I have been in contact with pastors and congregations in several flood-prone areas and they are safe and dry. Many people, myself included, are without power or displaced from their homes in our communities. I encourage you and your congregation to do what you can to check on and assist your neighbors, and to support and encourage those who are doing recovery work in our neighborhoods.

Lutheran Disaster Response-Eastern PA is in continuous touch with national LDR officials and local voluntary agencies such as the Red Cross to ensure that long-term assistance is available as needs become more clear. LDR is working with many partners, from other denominations and from non-religious relief agencies, to help those facing the devastation of this storm.

In the days and weeks to come, they will need your help – whether that comes in the form of donations to Lutheran Disaster Response or through your work as a volunteer on an LDR team. These opportunities to help will be made known through our various communications channels so that together we can be God’s hands for those who have experienced loss.

This Sunday I am scheduled to visit Evangelical, Durham, in an area of Bucks County coping with numerous power outages. Please join me in using this prayer of the day in your worship for All Saints Day or in your prayer petitions:

Gracious and merciful God, who has joined us together in the communion of saints across time and eternity, unite us as we turn our hearts and minds to the needs of our neighbors.  Empower us to bring your love and comfort for those who are injured, grieving, displaced or distressed by this storm and its aftermath. Help us to be generous in our giving of time, compassion and resources, as they are needed. Through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

With and in Christ,

+ Bishop Claire Burkat


Donate now to ELCA Disaster Response to be used in the area of greatest needs from Sandy.

Donations to LDR-Eastern PA will be used to support relief operations in the 19 counties of Eastern Pennsylvania. Send donations to: 

Lutheran Congregational Services, 1923 Hanover Avenue, Allentown, PA 18109 with "Disaster" in the memo line.


If your congregation or ministry has sustained damage, please let us know at the Synod office and/or via Julia Menzo at LDR (215-424-3741 or ">)


News and Notes


Lutheran Disaster Response is already receiving some requests for volunteer assistance:



October 31, 2012

ELCA Disaster Response begins relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy


     CHICAGO (ELCA) — In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and its subsequent storms, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson said that the 4.2 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is "in prayer and will respond generously and work tirelessly to rebuild lives, congregations and communities."
     In an Oct. 31 video, Hanson, presiding bishop of the church, said the recovery work will not be done alone. "Through ELCA Disaster Response, we will join with our congregations, affiliates and other partners in our shared commitment to restore communities. As we have shown in past disasters, we stay until the work is done. That is the ELCA’s commitment."
     Some ELCA congregations along the U.S. Atlantic coast have reported damage. In the Caribbean, the storm has caused an estimated $88 million worth of damage to Cuba’s second largest province and taken the lives of 11 people. In Haiti, 51 people have been reported dead and severe flooding has damaged roads, homes and farmland.     
     "In the face of this horrific storm the church is present in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean for relief, to rebuild and to renew the lives of those who have stood in the path of destruction," said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director of ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.
     "The church’s work in these times benefit from our experience in disaster response, having already been present and prepared," said Rift. "Gifts given previously to ELCA Disaster Response enabled us to support the prepositioning of supplies in the Caribbean. That means we are already at work in bringing aid."
     While much of the damage on the east coast of the United States still needs to be assessed, many ELCA synod offices closed early in anticipation of the storm. After losing electricity on Monday night, the Rev. Claire Burkat, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, reported that "it might be days until (the power) comes back" and that it was "too dangerous for utility and Internet providers to work."
     "Communication and collaboration among our faith partners has been swift and effective," Burkat reported. "We pray that the Lord of Sea and Sky will continue to be with and protect those people and living creatures who are at risk from the wind, rain and flooding due to this massive storm."
     In hard-hit New Jersey, the Rev. Roy Riley, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod, was optimistic. "We were blessed to have the weekend for families and communities to make preparations. In our congregations, there were reminders on Sunday to remember the most vulnerable and check in with them as possible before and during the storm."
     "In the past few years this synod’s congregations have sent response teams to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Upstate New York, and places closer to home," Riley stated. "We should know the drill by now. Nevertheless, we are hoping for the best possible outcome but recognizing the significant challenges that lie ahead."
     The ELCA has a long history of responding quickly and generously to natural disasters.
     "The verbosity of this storm invites a response similar to that mounted over six years ago to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said Rift. "In New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, we have recent experience in coordinating repair and cleanup after floods last year. We expect to continue and reactivate programs and to expand this work in other states where the storm continues to progress."
     "Gifts can be directed for the work in the United States, Caribbean or for either locations as needed most," said Rift. "In all cases, 100 percent of gifts for the Hurricane Sandy response will be directed for response."
     View the video message from the ELCA presiding bishop at Information about ELCA Disaster Response is available at