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Lutherans Deploy Volunteers for Hurricane Debris Removal

[Evangelical Lutheran Church in America]  CHICAGO - Lutheran Disaster Response has gained access to areas of Alabama and Mississippi devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and it is ready to deploy volunteers for debris removal within a week, according to Heather L. Feltman, director for Lutheran Disaster Response, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

"In the face of heart-breaking news and images of despair and destruction, I know it is hard to see the good news of the day. But today I rejoice in several important steps in the relief and recovery process," said Feltman, who also serves as director for ELCA Domestic Disaster Response.

Volunteers assisting in the removal of debris "will need to be self-contained, providing all food and water for themselves as they serve," said Feltman. At present, devastated areas in Alabama and Mississippi still have limited communication and no electricity. Local food and water is being used to sustain the lives of Hurricane Katrina survivors, she said.

Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Ocean Springs, Miss., "is opening and has a temporary shelter and health clinic ready to serve up to 500 persons. Many (Lutheran) congregations are feeling called to do the same thing, and I thank God for you all," Feltman said.

"The outpouring of compassion for each other in this disaster continues to overwhelm me," she said. "Many have offered their homes and time in response to this devastating hurricane. We are recording each offer and invitation and are committed to responding to every e-mail and phone call we receive. We will be contacting volunteers as soon as they are needed. Please be patient with us as we coordinate and manage all these generous offers to serve. We are and will continue to help those affected by (Hurricane Katrina) during the long rebuilding and recovery process."

Feltman said, "Prayers are making a difference. I spoke with one mother," who said she lost contact with two of her daughters during an evacuation from New Orleans. "Her youngest son is struggling with asthma. She shared with me that she didn't think she would ever see (her children) again or would have enough medicine for her son. (The morning of Sept. 3) she received word that her daughters were located in a shelter in Dallas, and soon after she received medicine for her son. Her words to me were, 'All the prayers that people are offering worked. Please ask them to keep praying for us.'"

For more information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or