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LSS Disaster Response: Central Texas Wildfires, Labor Day Weekend

September 7, 2011

Firefighters continue battling blazes in Central Texas and around the state. Voluntary organizations are mobilizing to deal with the emergency and its aftermath.  People from all walks of life are deeply concerned and moved about the plight of the victims and are pitching in to help on a massive scale. We are once again deeply moved by the generosity of our donors. As of late yesterday, we have raised more than $100,000 in response to the Texas wildfires. Our disaster response leaders are meeting with church congregations in Bastrop County today to determine immediate emergency needs of their members.  LSSDR will continue to keep an eye on the long term recovery needs of the victims and survivors of this tragedy.

Personally, I attended my first meeting of the Central Texas VOAD today. VOAD stands for Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.  It was an unscheduled meeting as you might imagine under the circumstances and it was held in our Austin headquarters.  Heather Gatlin from our LSSDR group is the president of Central Texas VOAD. What was immediately apparent was that every major volunteer organization in the Central Texas area is represented in VOAD. The American Red Cross, the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN), Catholic Charities, The Capitol Area Food Bank, several other faith-based groups and many other volunteer groups. They packed our largest conference room. If you follow the local news, you will likely see many of these listed as organizations that others can help support in various ways. What most people may not know is that there is an established organization, VOAD, where information, ideas and plans are shared and a concerted effort is made to make the most efficient use of the available, valuable resources.  It is not and will not be easy.  But this particular group has been through a couple of events already on the local level responding to Hurricanes Rita, Ike and even Katrina. Lessons learned, knowledge and wisdom gained. We hope and pray that that hard-earned wisdom will be highly valued during this recovery effort.

A strong theme that permeated the meeting today: it’s on everybody’s mind. Hearts are open now. People are concerned now. Donations of goods, dollars and volunteer time are at their zenith now. The fires will eventually be doused and the media and the public will soon aim their attention elsewhere. Meanwhile, those who have lost everything have a long road ahead of them to recovery. It’s the groups that make up the Central Texas VOAD that will be the ones helping people recover over the long haul once the spotlight is removed. Let’s not forget them, let’s not discount their experience in these matters even when mistakes are made, and let’s not forget the difficult time ahead for the victims of the wildfires.

Texas Wildfires

September 6, 2011.

This is an update to our posting from yesterday, Labor Day (photo courtesy of Deanna Roy).

Phone calls from supporters have already been coming in asking how they might help local fire victims in Central Texas. The LSS Disaster Response (LSSDR) team is working diligently to identify affected families through our network of community partners and Lutheran congregations.

LSSDR is in need of financial assistance to support these relief efforts at this time. The quickest and easiest avenue is to make on online donation to LSS Disaster Response.  Designate “Disaster Response” in the drop-down menu.

In the short-term, LSSDR is addressing the immediate, emergency needs for food/shelter/clothing of individuals and families affected.  This will be an ongoing response through congregations until all are served or until the funds run out.

In the long-term, and as funds allow, LSSDR will assist low-income families without insurance who lost their homes and possessions, as well as renters stripped of their belongings.  Spiritual and emotional care will be available to those in need of support on an ongoing basis.

We will update information on the LSS website.  Additionally, you can help us by sharing this information throughout your own networks and on Facebook.

The thousands of families whose lives have been devastated, and the firefighters who are risking their lives battling the firestorms, are in need of our prayers.  Thank you … and God bless!

Bastrop Fire

September 5, 2011

Responding to the catastrophic wild fires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and continue to burn in many areas of Central Texas since yesterday, LSS Disaster Response leaders are in discussions with key emergency response organizations, community leaders and church congregations in the affected areas. As efforts to contain these fires continue and damages are assessed, we will continue to monitor the situation as closely as possible.

LSS Disaster Response is putting plans in place today in order to be able to effectively respond to the many areas of need. Our focus, as always, will be:

  • Short Term Emergency Needs
  • Long Term Response
  • Spiritual/Emotional Care

Many of our donors have asked how they can pledge financial assistance to response efforts at this time. The quickest and easiest way to do so is to make on online donation to LSS Disaster Response.  Designate “Disaster Response” in the drop down menu.

Our prayers are with the hundreds of families who have been affected and the firefighters who are bravely confronting this disaster.

We will continue update our information as necessary.

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