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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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An overabundance of care

Lutheran Disaster Response begins long, hard work

Lutheran Disaster Response isn’t usually called on to help with search and rescue, says its director, Heather Feltman. But when the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a call for help after Hurricane Katrina, Lutherans with search-and-rescue skills—some of them retired military—were ready. And when Hurricane Rita struck some of the same areas weeks later, the ELCA and Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod continued to help with this work and assessed damage.

That’s not the only thing that made these disasters different for LDR. “First, we’re dealing with a FEMA that’s now under a new Department of Homeland Security. That’s a change for the way they work,” Feltman says. “Second, we haven’t evacuated an entire U.S. city since the Civil War. Now we have and people have been displaced over thousands of miles. The level of impact on our rostered folks is unprecedented.”

So also is the response. “This church has shown an overabundance of care,” she says. At presstime, ELCA members had given more than $10 million to LDR. The money will fund a four-stage relief effort.


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