The 2,000 storms and 400 tornadoes that battered the United States in 2003 add up to an "unprecedented" number, says Gil Furst, director for Lutheran Disaster Response, a cooperative ministry of the ELCA and Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod. And that's not counting the fires that roared through Arizona in July and California in October.
The disasters were so numerous, in fact, that LDR didn't receive designated funds for many of them. But it still could provide food, medicine, drinking water and emergency shelter, Furst says, because many people donated money "to be used where most needed." Through Sept. 30, the ELCA, through LDR, had provided $1,167,231 for relief grants. It received $241,267 and funded the rest from its reserve account.
But money provides only part of the solution. The rest comes through volunteers. And that was in short supply this "disastrous" summer, says Dale Peercy. He and his wife, Jean, are LDR construction coordinators in Texas. "There were so many disasters in everyone's home state, or one state away," he said, "folks who usually travel across the country to help us traveled nearer their home."
"Repairs to a home can be done by a contractor," Jean Peercy said. "But the helping hand of the volunteer is where the true healing from disaster begins."
To learn how you can contribute money or time, visit www.elca.org/dcs/disaster or call (800) 638-3522, Ext. 2719.
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