The Northern Illinois District (NID) has supported the Texas District by sending 26 teams (some more than once) to different areas of Texas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Due to the devastation, they will need help for years to come. Please consider deploying to this area to work for a few days or a couple weeks.
By serving or donating, you can make a difference by showing the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those still suffering and in need.
From February 4 – 10, LERT volunteers from a Central Illinois District team traveled to the Houston, Texas area to help individuals who still desperately need assistance in recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
The team of five included Don and Sheila Kruse (St. John’s Lutheran Church – Green Valley, Illinois) and
Ken and Rhonda Kruse and Pat Smith (Redeemer Lutheran Church – Peoria, Illinois). Through Heart for Texas, a coalition of Lutheran organizations with the purpose of providing disaster relief to southeast Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the team was housed by Salem in Tomball and worked out of Trinity Klein. During their time in Texas, they were able to provide construction assistance to affected homes in this area and help with the food pantry at Salam.
LCC thanks these dedicated LERT volunteers for using their time and talents to help others.
LCC LERT Volunteers and LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Levi’s Team Join C.A.M.P. Mission Trip for Hurricane Harvey Relief
From January 6–14, forty-one volunteers from Illinois united with sixteen friends from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas for a week filled with a variety of construction and outreach projects, nightly devotions/music, and the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and experience “Sharing Houston” with one another and those God put in their path. Salem Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas served as the host site for volunteers with work dispatched through Trinity Klein Lutheran Church in Spring, Texas.
Led by Pastor Phillip Baerwolf of Immanuel - East Dundee and team leaders Sarah Baerwolf, Shelly Davidson, Lark Sanders, Randy Kerkman and Bob Bowne, they quickly witnessed the incredible need for assistance remaining for the many of the residents who were impacted by the hurricane. The homes that still need assistance with skilled construction are families who had no flood insurance. Mission team volunteers installed, taped and mud drywall; installed new electric, sub flooring, doors and door frames, walls and windows; assisted with organizing, cleaning and providing food pantry items; as well as the listened, shared and prayed with the homeowners.
Working with Janice Marut, Top Dog for LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Phoebe (St. Paul – Fort Worth, Texas), LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Levi and his handlers who were coordinated by Terry Sanders, gave cards of encouragement and gift cards to 9 homeowners who needed them the most. These gifts were a welcome relief, a sign of hope, a lift to weary souls and a reminder that our eternal God continues to care for them.
Thank you for your donations to help LCC continue to support families recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
aThis team completed drywall and mudding of 3 homes during their one week stay. They worked at a home of an 83 year old women who had just purchased her ranch home 5 months prior to the hurricane. She lost all her furniture, appliances, and many possessions. In 2 ½ days, the team completed hanging and mudding drywall in her entire home. She told the team, “Great job guys and gals!”
Beaumont had 1,000 homes that were under water for a few weeks. This area will need help recovering for a couple years. There is still a lot of help needed for the long term recovery efforts in these communities. LCC is truly blessed by the Trinity – Peoria, Illinois LERT team of talented members and thanks them for dedicating their time to serve communities still devastated by Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
On Saturday, November 11, CrownPoint Ministries “equipped” 17 people from St. John Lutheran Church in Beaumont, Texas to serve as CarePartners for the long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey. In the areas we visited two months ago, nearly 1,200 homes, about 80%, are still under various stages of rebuilding and not being lived in by the residents. Many of the residents have travel trailers on their property that provide lodging during the days of recovery. The majority of the homes that were flooded during Hurricane Harvey were not covered by flood insurance because the homes were not located in the 100 year flood plain.
The “equipping” provided background, ideas, and planning for being ongoing CarePartners offering spiritual and emotional support, hope, encouragement, and prayer during the long-term recovery phase. St. John has been a “staging site” for volunteers as they come from all over to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding phase. St. John has a few members who live in the area we visited and are keenly aware of the needs and emotions following the flooding.
CrownPoint Ministries, through CarePartner “equipping,” provides training for congregations and RV’ers to be ready responders during all phases of a disaster. While there are always physical and material needs following a disaster, there are also great needs in the spiritual, emotional, and mental areas. CarePartners are equipped to “stand in the gap” with those affected by a disaster through presence, prayer, partnership, and the Word.
CLICK HERE for more information on the ministry of CrownPoint Ministries.
Dr. Lou Jander
Day 1 Report (11/4): We have a crew of 8 heading to Corpus Christi, Texas for disaster relief. An early morning start yesterday from Chicago and ended the night in Arkansas. We're scheduled to reach our destination around 7pm tonight. Continued prayers for safe travels.
Day 2 Report (11/5): We made it!!!! Arrived safely at our destination at Trinity Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. There are so many destroyed areas that have not made the news and have not been helped. We are anxious to begin our volunteer ministry tomorrow. Please continue to pray for us and follow our mission of serving Christ.
Work Day 1 (11/6): We tackled a lot today and have a lot of work ahead of us.
Work Day 2 (11/7): We were blessed to help Sandy all day on her 10 acre ranch. Picture this: all the trees on her property once stood straight, her horse was found alive on someone else's property, and she came home to her neighbor’s dead cows and horses on her property which were soon burned. We found quite a few bones, the head of a deer moose, and miscellaneous home items while digging through the debris. A full day of work and there is still a lot to be done. We were so happy to help Sandy today in her long road to recovery.
Work Day 3 (11/8): We took a ferry this morning to Port Aransas. Our team split into 2 groups and tackled a lot of tasks. Our first home we found a couple who lost the top two stories of their home. We removed household debris, materials, and salvaged a few precious memories. Across the street was a lady who lost several trees and had one leaning against the roof. She couldn't fix her damaged roof until the tree was gone. She was ecstatic to have our help today. Another block down the road we cut down 7 tall palm tree stumps. The homeowner shared pictures of her return home after the hurricane. The driveway was unrecognizable! Her garage was filled with 4 feet of water and 2 feet of seagrass from the bay. We ended our rainy work day with another ride on the ferry.
Work Day 4 (11/9): We had another productive day on Port Aransas. This area was hit by category 4 Hurricane Harvey at winds around 130 mph. Hotels, vacation homes, and restaurants were shredded, which devastated an economy almost fully reliant on tourism.
Work Day 5 (11/10): We were back in Rockport today clearing more trees. Spent half the day at a rental home clearing branches and cutting trees in the backyard. No rain and perfect temps made for the perfect workday.
Hope Lutheran Church – Bonita Springs
Estero Fire Rescue - Estero
Red Cross Shelter – Estero
Life Care – Estola
The Amigos Center – Immokalee
Arlington of Naples, a Lutheran Retirement Community – Naples
Lambs of Faith Preschool at Faith Lutheran Church – Naples
Marine Corps League meeting at Faith Lutheran Church – Naples
Naples Fire Department – Naples
NCH Healthcare – Naples
Peace Lutheran Church Early Learning Center – Naples
Good Shepherd Early Learning Center at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
LCC continues to work through our Texas District contacts and ministry partners to help impacted communities still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Lutheran Church Charities LERT volunteers Pastor Greg Hintz, Steve Goetsch and Ken Kiviranta (St. Peter – Schaumburg, Illinois) and Bob Pautsch (Trinity – Roselle, Illinois) returned on October 15 from a week of serving in Houston, Texas. Getting job assignments through Trinity – Klein, this group had many opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, bringing both physical assistance and spiritual support to those still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Pastor Hintz shared with LCC how being present during recovery and rebuilding gives hope to those impacted.
As we stood at the entrance of the garage on the cul de sac, we were trying to imagine how the water had been so high in the house as the foundation was already 6 ft. above the street. The homeowners told their story that the 52+ inches of rain that had fallen over the 3 day period had not been the main problem for them. It was when the waters were released at the reservoir when it became trouble. The waters had to be released so that the reservoir itself would not break and damage many more homes and businesses. That is when the waters rose and entered the home with 4 ft. inside! The wife said miracles abounded that they did not get shocked from the electricity that had still been working as they waded through the waist high water. They both told of the rescue raft that took them to the boat, with their 3 children, in the middle of what used to be their street ... all while avoiding the snakes swimming in the water looking for shelter too! Even though we had worked hard spraying down the bleach/water application and were sweating profusely in 85+ degree weather, she asked us for a hug and thanked us tremendously for making a sacrifice and a great difference to help restore their lives back to "normal." It truly has been a blessing to reach out with the love of Christ and bring relief in the opportunities He gives us!
Bringing comfort, volunteers and your donations to hurting communities
Lutheran Church Charities is monitoring the wildfires in Napa, Santa Rosa and Monticeto, California. We are in contact with Pastor Zabell, the CNH District Disaster Response Coordinator. He reports that there has been approximately 3,500 homes lost in these communities. St. John Lutheran Church in Napa reports that staff members and several congregation members have lost their homes.
Following their deployment to serve in Las Vegas, Nevada, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Aaron (St John’s – Napa, California) and Reuben (First Lutheran – Yuba City, California) returned home to out-of-control wildfires in their towns, even though they are about 2 hours apart in driving distance. LCC K-9 Ministry team members from both Aaron Comfort Dog and Reuben Comfort Dog initially evacuated from their homes but have since returned. We are thankful that they are all safe. As soon as it was safe to do so, both teams have been serving throughout their surrounding communities, visiting first responders, incident command centers, schools, families in shelters, and others who have been and still are impacted. Please continue to pray for all first responders who are heroically battling these horrible fires, all volunteers, and the individuals in the impacted communities who are struggling to cope with their losses.
Las Vegas Update
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are still serving the Las Vegas community following the recent tragic event supporting LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Lois (First Good Shepherd - Las Vegas, Nevada). Last week, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Anna (Trinity - Toledo, Ohio) and Bekah (Immanuel - Belvidere, Illinois) and their teams served with Lois Comfort Dog and her team. This week, Tobias (Lord of Glory - Grayslake, Illinois) and Rich Martin, LCC Director of K-9 Deployments
Puerto Rico Update
Through our generous donors, Lutheran Church Charities has and will continue to provide financial support and Walmart gift cards to Vicar David Blas from Sheboygan, Wisconsin who will get them directly to impacted individuals in need in Puerto Rico. Vicar Blas has been in Puerto Rico since last Thursday helping his family and their neighbors with basic needs and to assess current conditions. He is returning home this week and LCC will be talking to him about on-going support to help individuals during the long recovery process they face.
These are some of the living conditions of people in Immokalee, Florida that the Amigos Center is working with. Jan Boerman (Trinity – Lisle, Illinois) and Denise Cupples (Cross – Yorkville, Illinois) have been helping Pastor Glander complete assessments. Housing was poor prior to Hurricane Irma. It is deplorable in many places now.
LCC will continue to partner and work with the Amigos Center in Immokalee, asking churches to Adopt-A-Family, providing for basic household needs as families are able to move into safe, sanitary and secure housing. Pastor Glander, Director of Amigos Center, and staff are doing assessments of hurricane damaged mobile homes and apartments. He knows 80 have been condemned by the city and several others that have serious damage and mold. As these assessments are completed, they will begin determining needs and how LCC can ask all of our churches and teams to support and partner with them. This is a “forgotten community” and called a “Third World Country” within the United States.
This week, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Sasha (Island Lutheran – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) and Luke (Christ the Shepherd – Alpharetta, Georgia) and their handlers have been working with Hope Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs, Florida to bring comfort and hope in the name of Jesus Christ to impacted individuals in Bonita Springs, Immokalee, and surrounding communities that are still greatly impacted from the hurricane. Phil Burden presented Pastor Karl Glander from the Amigos Center with Visa gift cards sent by the people at Island Lutheran Church to help individuals during this time of need.
LCC Responds to Help Requested through Facebook
After Hurricane Irma hit Florida, LCC received a Facebook message from a concerned brother for his sister living in LaBelle who days after Hurricane Irma still had not received any assistance and was housing neighbors that had their homes destroyed.
"I have a sister who lives in LaBelle. She's a single mom who is housing a few others who have lost their homes, including an 88 year old woman. She could really use some people with chainsaws. How can I get her some help? Thank you for doing your important work. Blessings to you."
Kathy O’Day, LCC Director of Disaster Response, reached out to Marilyn immediately and listened to her story and pleas for help. Marilyn said the town was hit by the eastern eye of the wall of the hurricane and had flooding and a lot of trees down. Many of the homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. They had no power for a week following the storm. Marilyn sheltered 12 people during the hurricane and now has 3 neighbors still living with her as their homes have been destroyed and they have nowhere else to go. She lives on 5 wooded acres with at least 40 trees now down. She is an accomplished butterfly farmer shipping them all over the country, but her several greenhouses and a lab were destroyed or badly damaged. She was struggling to come to grips with this loss of everything after the hurricane.
Kathy O’Day was able to pass on this information to the Florida District Disaster Response Coordinators and Ed and Jan Boerman (Trinity – Lisle, Illinois) LERT team members who were in the Fort Myers area. They visited Marilyn’s home to assess the damage and began to send teams to assist. LCC was also able to give each family WalMart gift cards to help purchase basic supplies they needed.
Multiple LERT team members from the Northern Illinois District from our area were sent to her home over the last few weeks to help her remove downed trees and salvage her butterfly farm. The LERT team members from Illinois and Indiana who volunteered their time and talents were from Trinity – Lisle, Lord of Life – LaFox, Cross – Yorkville, Prince of Peace – Palatine, Grace – Paris, Immanuel – Freeport, St. John – Wheaton and St. John – Dillsboro, Indiana.
This week, LCC received a thank you note from Marilyn’s brother:
“Many of your teams helped my sister, Marilyn, in LaBelle, Florida these past few weeks. First of all, I want to thank you so much for your help. Marilyn could never have done the work herself. I cannot begin to thank you enough. God bless you.”
LCC continues to work through our Texas District contacts and ministry partners to help impacted communities still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Julie Tucker, Texas District Volunteer Relief Coordinator, reports that there are 330,000 homes damaged or destroyed in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. These damaged homes stretch from the Beaumont/Port Arthur area to the Houston area and down to the Rockport/Aransas Pass/Corpus Christi area with many towns in between as well. Many of the people affected in the coastal bend are retired and on fixed incomes or immigrants living below poverty level. Neither of these groups have the means to recover on their own and need assistance.
Julie is looking for volunteers willing to travel outside of the Houston area down to the some of these hard hit communities which still need outside assistance.
Michelle Karim, Volunteer Coordinator for Trinity Lutheran Church in Klein (Houston area only) reports that they are moving forward with plans for the build out phase of recovery which should begin next month. They have a warehouse of building material supplies and skilled volunteer construction supervisors to direct projects and instruct volunteers. LCC LERT volunteers Bob Pautsch (Trinity - Roselle, Illinois) and Ken Kirvanta (St. Peter - Schaumburg, Illinois) have been serving in Texas, receiving their job site assignments through Trinity Klein. Lou Jander, Crown Point Ministries reports that he is in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area providing spiritual and emotional support. He will be teaching how to do this this to the local congregations in the circuit in early November.
LCC hosts daily LERT phone calls with LCMS District Disaster Response Coordinators (DDRC) in Texas and Florida and NID LERT members to coordinate volunteer and work site assignments for groups and individuals wishing to provide relief efforts to those with the greatest recovery needs.
LCC is working closely with Rev. Steven Misch, Texas District Disaster Response Director (DDRD), Julie Tucker, Volunteer Relief Coordinator, and Dr. Lou Jander, retired Texas District DDRC from CrownPoint Ministries and Lutheran RV’ers, to direct volunteer efforts. Corpus Christi and Rockport areas need mostly chainsaw work. Other areas need muck and gut assistance.
You MUST complete the TEXAS DISTRICT REGISTRATION form for each volunteer. This will immediately follow once you submit the LCC registration form. You will be contacted directly from the Texas District with confirmation and location of an assigned site. Do not leave for Texas until you receive confirmation from the Texas District.
Rev. Steven Misch asks for patience from out-of-state volunteers, as they are trying to process volunteer applications coming from the LCMS, multiple districts, other individuals and churches. They are managing about 125 local and 160 out-of-state volunteers on a daily basis, matching to available sites to work on. This recovery will be LONG-TERM and they will be in need for volunteers for a LONG time.
LCC is working closely with the following LCMS churches
to provide assistance to people within their communities:
Memorial Lutheran – Katy, Texas
Pilgrim Lutheran – Houston, Texas
Trinity Klein Lutheran – Spring, Texas
Salem Lutheran – Tomball, Texas
Peace Lutheran – Rockport, Texas
St. John Lutheran – Beaumont, Texas
Memorial Lutheran – Katy, Texas
Rev. John Davis, Senior Pastor
Because of your support, LCC Disaster Response was able to help the Katy community that has been devastated with flooding due to Hurricane Harvey with $20,000 plus to help families to get back into their homes. Thank you for being Jesus to those who are in need. Memorial is committed to continue to serve their community as long as there is a need. This is the church where the Pastor and Director of Education (DCE) lost their homes as well as other staff.
In Florida, LCC is working closely with John Elliot, the FL/GA DDRC, and Kathy and Joel Matthews, Florida DDRC’s, as they begin their recovery assistance anticipated to take several months. They report that over 1 million people still do not have power in their homes, with needs greater throughout Florida than those who can respond. They are working through Zion Lutheran – Ft. Meyers, Florida and Faith Lutheran – Naples, Florida. The majority of needs are chainsaw and debris removal. Some communities need muck and gut assistance. Jacksonville has major flooding as rivers are still rising.
Ed and Jan Boerman, LERT team leaders (Trinity - Lisle, Illinois), are now working with Kathy and Joel Matthews to reach out to hard hit areas in Ft. Meyers, Naples, Labelle and Immokalee. They are working through their church, Hope Lutheran - Bonita Springs, to provide assistance within the surrounding communities. NID LERT teams and individuals are needed to assist with massive tree removal as a result of the hurricane. NID LERT teams have already been deployed and began arriving on September 18th and are currently scheduled through October 21st but the need is great. LCC will be coordinating volunteers who are wishing to help with relief efforts in Florida for as long as needed.
Haiti Relief Help
Haiti for the most part avoided the brunt of Hurricane Irma. Laurent Lophane, our partner on the ground, reported however that people lost their crops which could not withstand the winds. Assistance has been requested to buy seeds for struggling farmers and families to replant crops that were lost due to the storm. For some, farms where completely destroyed, leaving farmers with no source of income to feed or take care of their family.
Financial Assistance Update
LCC continues to put financial assistance in the hands of people directly impacted by the hurricanes. Dollar In – Dollar Out, 100% of your donations go to the individuals affected to help them with immediate needs.
The following thank you was received from Dr. William Hinz, Director of School Ministry for the Texas District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod:
Our Lutheran schools want to thank you and your generous donors again for the love and care and financial support you have given to us.
Dr. Bill Hinz
There are still a few spots left for the first Lutheran RV’ers – CarePartners in Disasters equipping event on October 3-5, 2017 at Heit’s Point Lutheran Camp in Lincoln, Missouri.
It would have been great to have had a group of RV’ers responding to the two recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma. We spent a number of days in Corpus Christi, Texas; Rockport, Texas; Aransas Pass, Texas; Houston, Texas; and the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Texas serving as CarePartners. With others working with us, we could have touched many more people with the Word, prayer, words of encouragement, and resources.