It was 6 years ago this week. Hurricanes Lee &
Irene turned into tropical depressions and overlapped their path in Northeast Pennsylvania. The result–devastating flooding.
This was my crash course in leading in times of Natural Disaster. Our area was hit hard with a flood. Our town became an island–stranded for almost a week. By God’s grace the parsonage was on higher ground. But my neighbors lost their homes. My friends lost their businesses. Some of our church families lost everything.
What I learned through the next 4 years of leading disaster recovery is how to help well.
Here is what I learned about the “dos and do nots” of helping well:
- Pray. Beseech God to make Himself known in the midst of this disaster. Ask God to give mercy, grace and restoration to those affected. Cry out to God that the 1st Responders are given a hedge of protection.
- Search the Scriptures. Read your Bible so that you may know God better, that you can understand who He is and the truths about Him. Remind yourself about God’s characteristics. See how He has moved in the past–know He moves the same way today. Know He does not change.
- Donate money. BUT, please know, it will take up to 3 years for that money to hit the area you are donating it to. I recommend the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Southern Baptist Men Relief. I have worked with both in Pennsylvania & Louisiana.
- Do Not Give to Individuals–give to ORGANIZATIONS. There are so many scams out there. Unfortunately–these folks kick into high gear during disasters. I have seen at least 3 scams on facebook.
- Do not donate used items. Most of these items get thrown out. And, if the disaster is somewhere else–like Texas–there are transportation costs incurred to transporting what will be tossed away.
- Understand This Will Be A DECADE of Recovery. Right now the flood waters are high in Texas. There is NOTHING we can physically do to help right now. BUT, we can help in the months, years and decade following. We will plan on short term teams–beginning as early as April. The NationalVOAD director is a friend of mine and will get us connected to relief organizations.
- If you are ERT trained. Let me know. That is the national certification for Early Relief Teams to come and stabilize homes that can be saved. These will be the first volunteer teams allowed on the ground after the waters subside. We would need a self-sufficient team of at least 6 to go. We would work to muck out homes, tarp roofs, set houses up to dry out.
- The best time to help is BEFORE the disaster. Get involved with local relief agencies who are working with folks here. REACH, the Hope Center, the Red Cross, Maugansville VFD #13, Food Banks etc. Help those that feel the bite of loss and poverty EVERY DAY. Then, when the disaster hits here, you are plugged in and ready to go!
May the God of all Grace, Peace & Mercy make Himself known to the people affected by flood & fire. Give us the grace to make the invisible reign of Jesus Christ visible.
If you have questions, please let me know.