Share your stories and prayers about Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath
Often in the days following a disaster, there are numerous accounts of the care and concern of families, neighbors, and even strangers offering help and hope. We know God is at work even in the aftermath of disasters.
We invite those who have seen the hand of God at work around you during these trying days following the impact of Hurricane Sandy to share your story with PDA and others by using the comments section below.
Please consider confidentiality, and do not use names unless you have been permitted to do so. We look forward to hearing about the many blessings you have seen evident in wake of this storm.
If you prefer, share your stories on the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Facebook page instead.
PDA National Response Team member Sue Renault is at work in New Jersey this week, in response to Hurricane Sandy. She has shared the following reflections portraying some of the feelings and needs survivors face:
“Met a woman today who got completely washed out ... She told us, ‘Being a Sandy victim is HUMBLING. I've always been the one to offer help or assist someone else. Being on the receiving end is terrible. Something as simple as thinking you'd enjoy an egg and not being able to open your own refrigerator, access your own groceries, pull out your own pan, and cook in your own kitchen. Losing everything puts a new light on what is really important in life. That is true. But don't let anyone fool you: LOSING EVERYTHING IS HUMBLING.’"
“Another woman talked about waiting on the phone and getting the run-around as she sought information about insurance. ‘If I -- a person with resources, some savings, a good education, a reasonable ability to assert myself -- If I find this process so devastating, frustrating, exhausting and helpless, imagine what elderly folks, hard of hearing folks, people who don't speak English, and people unaccustomed to prevailing over disaster are going through. The very thought makes me heartsick.’"
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance plans to walk with survivors not only in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but also on the long road to recovery. Please continue to pray for individuals and families affected by the superstorm – that the hope of Christ will be evident, and that God’s peace will prevail.
A Warm Church
This story was sent to PDA by Sue Renault, National Response Team member serving in the Presbytery of Monmouth and the Presbytery of New Brunswick as part of the Hurricane Sandy response.
Louanne Christie, 78, is an elder at First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Banks, NJ. She is also, in her own words, "a survivor," having outlived her daughter and three husbands. She lives alone in a senior condo complex and often checks on "the older folks there." She also stays active in her church. This week, though, -- day 10 of Hurricane Sandy and no power -- she has spent most of every day at the church. "It is cold, dark, and lonely at home," she says. "The church has electricity and has offered members and neighbors a warm place to spend the day, a kitchen and hot coffee, even a shower or laundry for people who need it. Today she has brought her bank statements and calculator and has settled in to reconcile her check records. She'll go home late in the afternoon and go to bed soon after dark. Others at the church, we're told, bring food to cook in the kitchen and have enjoyed impromptu suppers before heading home to chilly homes. Soon after I speak with Louanne, three other guests arrive to power up their computers.
Our prayers are with all who have been displaced and disrupted, injured or killed, with those who are leading congregations and communities to bring hope and recovery, with volunteers on the scene and behind the scenes, and with those who have and will contribute to provide resources for restoration, consolation and spiritual support.
This past Sunday, my sister living in New Jersey worshiped by candlelight, with only a piano for music, while huddling in blankets for warmth. After six days they still had no power. At the suggestion of a member, tonight I will suggest to our worship team that this Sunday we worship by candlelight, with our electronic instruments turned off, and the heat turned down, so that for an hour we might worship in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who might not yet have power available in their homes or places of worship. We would also include a special request to support Superstorm Sandy Relief. Please freely amend and forward this idea so other congregations might adapt it to their locations. And that our neighbors in New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, ... might know they do not sit alone. Yours in Christ, Robert Shaw, Pastor Christ Presbyterian Church 7416 East 109th Avenue Winfield, Indiana 46307 www.christwinfield.org
Having led PDA teams in the past, Sandy struck close to home this time with family on LI, NY. We grabbed gear and a generator and headed down from Mass. to meet up with others with whom we have served in the past. After 4 days, pumping out 4 feet of standing water, removal of 8,000+ lbs of debris, restoring some power to the home, and securing the damaged portion of the home, we returned to our families. PDA has been and continues to be instrumental in our formation as Chist's disciples among others. Yesterday, as we sat in a diner for breakfast and prayed, the restaurant quieted down and we knew that His presence was felt by all.
I serve as Pastor of the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Many of you have seen aerial photos of the place in the little beachfront town of Mantoloking where the ocean has cut right through the barrier beach to join Barnegat Bay. This is what we on the Jersey Shore call a new “inlet” - and it runs right through the area our congregation serves. We have members who live south of this new inlet. None of them are still in their homes, because the barrier island has been completely evacuated, but if the new inlet is still there weeks or months from now, when they are finally given permission to return - and if no bridge has been constructed over the new body of water - their drive to church will change from around 15 minutes to an hour or more. I’ve been thinking a lot about Psalm 46:2, which says in part: “We will not fear, though the earth should change...” Around here, the earth HAS changed. But God’s love is constant. And so, we do not fear.
I am the pastor of the Stony Point Presbyterian Church in NY. I just came from spending the day at the Stony Point Center. Currently, they are hosting and feeding approximately 40 families from our community whose homes have been flooded or are without power. Many homes have been completely destroyed. They have arranged for the American Red Cross and FEMA to interview familes onsite; have organized school bus pick ups when school re-opens and have obtained contributions of backpacks and school supplies for every displaced child. Members of our congregation are gathering toiletries and snacks for the children to eat between meals and to make lunches this week. A previously scheduled Flea Market just finished - our 4-Church youth group raised at least $200 to contribute toward disaster relief. Other congregants are hosting neighbors and cooking meals for those without power and they STILL want to find more ways to volunteer: e.g., help clear debris and get families back into their homes asap. Tomorrow, we gather to worship God together with these neighbors, some of whom do not speak English. A congregant has already volunteered to translate. I have never been prouder to be the pastor of this big-hearted small church and a colleague in ministry with the staff and volunteers of the Stony Point Center. God is powerfully present here in Stony Point in the aftermath of this disaster. Thanks be to God.