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Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma Update Sept. 8, 2017

From Pastor Robert Hein:

WELS Christian Aid and Relief is supporting the local efforts of our congregations in Texas to offer aid and relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Recently, 40 WELS members from the greater Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth area traveled to Edna and Victoria to offer support and relief to 50 homes affected by this storm. Local Texas congregation members donated water, cleaning supplies, and food to help those in need in those communities. WELS Christian Aid and Relief provided two relief trailers filled with generators, chain saws, and other relief supplies and equipment to use for the clean-up. $25,000 has already been provided to help address immediate needs of the congregations and members affected by the hurricane and the flooding.

A representative from WELS Christian Aid and Relief and District President Don Patterson met with Houston-area pastors and lay leaders on September 6 to assess the situation in their area. They are taking the lead on clean-up and recovery efforts. Clean-up work is nearing completion with the help of local volunteers. Local help has been plentiful to address their immediate needs. They are forming a local committee to coordinate further relief and recovery opportunities. This may take some time as they work with FEMA and their insurance companies. They will share needs for money and manpower with WELS Christian Aid and Relief who will then provide them with the resources, tools, and volunteers they need. Sienna Plantation Lutheran Academy suffered roof damage. With cleanup and repairs they hope to open their school next week.

As Christian Aid and Relief considers how to best mobilize volunteers as they meet with local leaders, Hein says those who are interested in volunteering can sign up online at wels.net/relief or contact Rev. Richard Warnecke, a WELS Christian Aid and Relief committee member, at 262-424-8792; pastorwarnecke@christpewaukee.org. When volunteers are requested, we will contact you.

Our congregations in Texas are requesting that supplies or donated items not be sent to Texas at this time. If you wish to support this relief effort, direct your financial gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief and designate the Hurricane Fund. To promote good coordination of efforts, please direct questions about hurricane relief to Warnecke or to Hein, 262-334-7881; revrhein@gmail.com, rather than to local Texas congregations.

Donate to Hurricane Harvey relief online at wels.net/give or by sending checks made payable to WELS. In the memo section of the check please note “hurricane relief” and send to WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr, Waukesha, WI 53188.

Hurricane Irma – We are also keeping the people of Florida and the Caribbean in our prayers as they await the impact of Hurricane Irma. District President Chuck Westra is in communication with our pastors in Florida, and he will share requests for aid and relief with our committee. We have relief trailers ready to head to staging areas if needed. Stay tuned for further updates.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers and encouragement, your special gifts and offers to help.

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)


Rev. Daron Lindemann, pastor at Holy Word, Pflugerville, Tex., and district relief coordinator, posted a video about the relief work in Victoria and Edna, Tex.

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)


WELS Christian Aid and Relief update concerning Hurricane Harvey relief efforts

Thank you for your prayers, your gifts, and your offers to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Please continue to keep these people in your prayers and ask the Lord to bless all relief efforts.  In this time of crisis, we pray that God’s people will find strength and comfort in our God of free and faithful love and his gracious promises.

WELS Christian Aid and Relief always seeks to personalize our relief efforts.  We are working through our congregations and leaders in the affected areas of Texas.  District President Don Patterson is in communication with his pastors as they assess the damage in their neighborhoods and consider ways to respond.  Meetings will be held on Tues., Sept. 5 in Victoria and Edna and Wed., Sept., 6 in Houston with area pastors, lay leaders, and a representative from WELS Christian Aid and Relief to determine further ways to help.

We are generally not first responders, but initial funds ($25,000) have been sent to District President Patterson and his representatives to address immediate needs.  We have also sent several relief trailers to our staging point at Holy Word, Austin, Tex., which include generators and other relief supplies and equipment.

We are not presently seeking donations of items to ship to Texas.  They will purchase the supplies they need down there.  If you wish to support this relief effort, the best way is to direct financial gifts to WELS Christian Aid and Relief, and designate the Hurricane Fund. To promote good communication, and at the request of our congregations in Texas, please direct questions about Hurricane Harvey disaster relief to Christian Aid and Relief rather than contacting  those local congregations in Texas.  You may contact Pastor Robert Hein at 262-334-7881 or revrhein@gmail.com or Pastor Rich Warnecke at 262-424-8792 or pastorwarnecke@christpewaukee.org.

We are not presently sending volunteers to Texas.  The neighboring congregations have not yet asked for volunteers, nor are they ready to host them.  Right now, neighboring congregations in Texas are sending their own members into the affected areas to offer relief.  We are assisting their local efforts.  Thirty-five volunteers from Austin are headed to Edna and Victoria to start four days of relief work. Keep them in your prayers.

If you are interested in volunteering to assist with relief efforts, you are invited to fill out the online volunteer relief form.  As plans develop, and volunteers are requested, we will contact you.

Donate to Hurricane Harvey relief online at wels.net/give or by sending checks made payable to WELS. In the memo section of the check please note “hurricane relief” and send to WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, N16W23377 Stone Ridge Dr, Waukesha, WI 53188.

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)


Update from South Central District President Don Patterson

I want to give  an update (albeit incomplete) about what we know about the property damage Harvey has caused for our WELS saints and their communities and to inform you about relief efforts you could support.

The good news so far is that we have no fatalities or major injuries among our WELS families in any of these geographic areas.

UPDATE

The five locations of WELS ministries that were most profoundly affected thus far are: Edna, Victoria, Friendswood, Sienna Plantation, north Houston.

Edna: Edna was on the “dry” side of the storm but very close to the epicenter. She sustained lots of downed trees and power lines. With high winds and substantial rainfall, there is some property damage but no serious widespread flooding. Power is out but water is still good.

Victoria:  Same damage as Edna but power and water are both out.

Friendswood: The church and school are still not flooded, but many of the homes are. Some families had to be evacuated by boat or helicopter.  At least two teachers first floor apartments were flooded. They had already evacuated to safety.

Sienna Plantation: SP is under mandatory evacuation as the Brazos river continues to overflow.  The Academy sustained some tornado damage but was left largely in tact.  Future flooding of the campus and homes is still a big threat.

North Houston:  Lots of street flooding, some house flooding, but so far our church and school have been spared.  Some folks were rescued by boat. No one is hurt.

TWO OTHER COMMUNITIES:

Corpus Christi: Thankfully, our church and families’ homes in Corpus Christi were not significantly damaged.

Katy: Church is still not flooded. Some members evacuated by boat. Most members homes not flooded yet.

RELIEF EFFORT:

Pastor Daron Lindemann is spearheading relief efforts by staying in close contact with the pastors from Edna and Victoria and our WELS Christian Aid and Relief leaders. Two relief supply trailers are on their way to Holy Word, Austin, and will arrive Wednesday. They will be taken to the Edna/Victoria area Thursday and initial cleanup will take place in that area Thursday through Sunday. Our staging area will be Redeemer Lutheran Church in Edna. Volunteers are needed and lodging will take place at the church.

On Monday, CAR representative, Mark Vance, will arrive in Austin and will help assess needs in the Edna/Victoria area.

I am staying in contact with Houston pastors and on Wednesday Mark Vance from CAR will meet with Houston pastors to assess damage and form a strategy with the pastors to meet campus needs, member needs, and also community needs.

In Georgetown, Tex., Pastor Mike Geiger, has ordered a pod and is collecting supplies from his community to take to areas affected by Harvey.  Maybe this an idea you could duplicate at your church.

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)


Update from WELS Christian Aid and Relief

WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR) asks that the people of WELS keep those affected by Hurricane Harvey in their thoughts and prayers as they deal with the aftermath of this catastrophic storm.  CAR Chairman Rev. Robert Hein and CAR Committee Member and Volunteer Coordinator Rev. Richard Warnecke continue to be in communication with District President Don Patterson, who has been in contact with the pastors in the areas that have experienced damage. An assessment of the damage will be done in the days ahead.

A staging area is in the process of being set up in Austin, Tex., with Daron Lindemann coordinating the effort. Two of the CAR relief trailers will be deployed to the staging area this week. Both trailers are equipped with chainsaws, generators, gasoline, and various tools that can be used to aid the volunteers in the cleanup.

On behalf of all the storm victims, WELS CAR would like to thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement, gifts and talents in their time of need

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)


Update from Pastor Andrew Schroer, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Edna, Tex.

As I write this, Harvey is on his way to my house. I did not invite him. He is not welcome and yet here he comes.

By the time you read this, we will be in the middle of the storm. Sure, it may have stopped raining, but that doesn’t mean the storm will have ended. As I sit here right now, I can only imagine the days, weeks, and months to come as we seek to recover and rebuild.

Storms don’t always end when the rain stops.

Before Harvey decided to make his unsolicited visit, I was preparing to preach this Sunday. My sermon was going to be about Jesus walking on water and calming the storm in Matthew 14.

God knew Harvey was coming.

In fact, one of the things that strikes me most about the account of Jesus walking on water is that Jesus sent his disciples into the storm.

It was dark. It had been a long day. The last few people who had experienced the feeding of the five thousand finally said their goodbyes and headed home.

Jesus told his disciples he was going to stay behind and he sent them into the storm. He knew what was coming and he sent them straight into it.

And this wasn’t just any storm. The disciples were experienced fisherman. They had spent many a night on the Sea of Galilee. They had survived many storms. Yet this storm was different. This storm was bigger. They were terrified.

Then they saw Jesus walking on the water to them. He invited Peter to trust him. He pulled him out of the water when Peter didn’t. He stepped into the boat and the storm stopped.

God often sends us directly into the storm – be it hurricanes, cancer, divorce, or whatever problems pound you with rain, hail and heartache. He sends us into the storm because he knows it will be for our good.

Jesus sent his disciples into the storm to teach them to trust in his power and love. Through the storms of life, God teaches us to trust in him and not in ourselves. He reminds us of what is truly important. He reminds us that we are not in control and shows us that he is.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Just like Peter, our feet are going to get wet. It’s going to be hard. But God doesn’t send us into the storm alone. He comes to us in his Word and promises. Though we cannot see him, he stands beside us, watching over us, protecting us and at times carrying us through the flood in his powerful arms.

And he promises us that the storm will end. Right now we are in the middle of it, but the pain and problems caused by Harvey will end one day. That’s God’s promise. Even if we struggle through storms our whole lives here on earth, Jesus has won for us a home in heaven where there are no hurricanes, floods or any other pain or problem.

As you stand in the middle of the storm, don’t forget that. Good will come from this. Your Savior is standing by your side. He will get you through.

The storm will end.

(To support these efforts in Texas, please select the “hurricane” or “flood” fund from the drop down menu.)

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