Last week I attended a symposium for Hurricane Sandy recovery in New York City, organized by New York Disaster Interfaith Services.  The purpose of the symposium was to bring together the scores of organizations currently involved in the rebuilding and recovery process to share perspectives and challenges, and updates on building codes and policies, and to support and encourage each other in the difficult work of getting significant unmet needs….met.

Lutheran Disaster Response – Eastern PA plays a leadership role in a number of our region’s VOADs (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and hearing how things are playing out in New York was instructive for our own planning especially around our more metropolitan areas like Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. Speakers talked on everything from points of consensus on rebuilding standards, to how to answer difficult questions from residents about city plans for coastal neighborhoods. Those presenting including people from faith based organizations, community groups, and city government. 

Some realizations the group came to were that they will have to “rethink, redesign, and restructure coastal New York” and no one quite knows what that means yet. There was also conviction and resolve that a home is only considered rebuilt when it is sustainable and the family is back in and the has all that it needs. Living in Pennsylvania, I have often thought of New York with the personality of a giant impersonal powerful skyline. The day of the symposium, New York seemed more like a familiar neighborhood… and I was simply sitting in on a giant town meeting. 

Volunteers needed!

ImageHurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee recovery continues in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Two volunteer work teams of 4 to 6 people each are needed to work on a home in Eagles Mere, Sullivan County, PA. The scheduled work dates are Friday February 7, Saturday February 8 and Sunday February 9. Overnight housing will be provided.

4-6 people will be needed each day to remove items …from the basement, do some demolition, sort and identify items to clean or discard, and remove mold. Please prayerfully consider this work!

If you think you can help individually or with a group please contact Dianne Fox at, 610-428-4598 (c) 610-770-9205 (o) or Linda Frey at<, 610-657-4730.See More

Seeing the fruits of resiliency

Yesterday I listened in on a briefing from USAID on the recovery efforts in the Phillipines. On the call we heard how faith-based and community groups/organizations are playing key roles in the emergency response, recovery, and relief efforts after Typhoon Haiyan. We heard that response groups were distibuting plastic sheeting, chlorine tablets, food, and hygience kits. Also interesting to hear was that those on the ground felt like resiliency initiatives had come a long way since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. For example, pre-positioning of disaster response team members, and the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, saved countless lives. Others reflected on the fact that response groups are being sensitive to local markets that are developing even in the midst of the devastation, so they are looking to buy supplies like rice from local markets that exist.

It seemed coincidental to me that in the same day I learned about some interesting resiliency efforts going on closer to home! In partnership with the National Weather Service, the Nature Nurture Center in Easton, PA, is conducting a study about how to improve communication about imminent flooding along the Delaware River. Their hope is that what they learn will help to save lives and property right here at home! To learn how you can participate in this study, visit

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandy Day of Service

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has partnered with Jersey Cares to mobilize 5,000 volunteers in meaningful service projects to continue clean-up and rebuilding efforts throughout Atlantic, Monmouth, Ocean and Bergen Counties on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Follow the link below to find out about volunteer opportunities for people and groups of all ages on Saturday October 26, and Tuesday October 29.

Oktoberfest LDR 2013

This past Saturday, September 28, we were blessed with beautiful early fall weather for the 5th annual Oktoberfest at St. Paul’s Glenside, benfitting Lutheran Disaster Response-Eastern PA. Another day of great entertainment, food, homebrew beer, children’s activities and music! While … Continue reading

Resiliency Workshop September 7, 2013

Resiliency Workshop September 7, 2013

In the past three years, our region has been hit by three significant weather events.  Over 55,000 residents applied for FEMA aid in Southeastern PA following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.  Two days after Superstorm Sandy passed through our region, over 6 million customers were reported to be still without power in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Many customers throughout our region were without power for days and longer.  Thankfully, when events like these happen, people want to do something!   They want to act!  Church communities want to step up, people want to help their neighbors.  

On September 7, 2013 Lutheran Disaster Response- Eastern PA (LDR-EPA), a program of Liberty Lutheran will sponsor the workshop, “Be Prepared:  Building Lasting Resiliency in Families, Churches and Communities.”  Speakers include representatives from FEMA, PEMA, Montgomery County Emergency Management, Liberty Lutheran, American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, and Christ Lutheran Church, Kulpsville, and Temple University.  Workshop topics include:

  •  Landscaping and tree maintenance for mitigation
  • Volunteering in first days after a disaster
  • Community Participation:  mission teams, continuity of operations, and long term recovery
  • Spiritual resiliency in disaster

See the link below for more information and to register.

Levittown Fire, Bucks County

After the fire at the Racquet Club Apartments in Levittown this past weekend, Lutheran Disaster Response-Eastern PA, a ministry of Liberty Lutheran, reached out to nearby Lutheran congregations to inquire about outstanding needs, and to share information from our disaster response partners and information about a material needs drive organized by State Rep. Frank Farry. Our partners at Red Cross and United Way of Bucks County continue to gather information on needs and will share that with us. This is a great time to think about developing a disaster preparedness plan for your congregation and to identify resources your congregation may have to support local disaster response should the need ever arise! Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lower Bucks County Conference and the residents of the Racquet Club Apartments as they recover from this tragedy.