Most of us watched as Sandy came onshore in the northeast and continue to watch the images and hear the stories of destruction and survival. Often, after the shock, our first response is, "How can I help?"
Both of us at Dirty Sexy Ministry have weathered our fair share of hurricanes. We have been the recipient of the help that has come from others through their time, prayers, and money. A wonderful way to help is to pray and continue to pray. Long after the news has moved on to other stories, people will still be struggling with the devastation of the storm.
Also, give money. We so want to share what we have with others, and after Katrina, I heard so many people say, "But giving money seems so impersonal." Maybe, but giving for relief efforts is not about a warm feeling; it's about helping those who need help. Funds donated through Episcopal Relief and Development are distributed through local congregations to meet the specific needs of individuals. ERD funds helped buy bleach to clean after flooding (you have no idea how much bleach you go through unless you've had the unpleasant experience of cleaning after a flood); medication; art supplies to help trauma specialists work with children and those who don't speak English very well; and all kinds of materials needed after a storm. Most denominations have relief organizations that do similar work, so consider making a donation to help. Other organizations like the Red Cross also do amazing work after a storm with the money you give.
If you do discern that your physical presence is needed to help in the rebuilding effort, please make sure you have contacted someone in the area who can serve as your host and who can tell you exactly what your task will be. After several hurricanes, we both had the experience of working with well-meaning groups who just decided to come down to help without making arrangements for shelter or food or even what they were going to do - while we were still trying to respond to the immediate needs of our own congregations and communities and selves. This was a huge storm with so much damage that will take months if not years to clean and rebuild. The work will be there, so listen to the needs, then respond in a way that does not add to the workload of those impacted by Sandy.
And to all who have been impacted by Sandy, we pray that God who stills the storms will bring you peace and comfort, and that all of God's people will help how and when they are called to bring comfort and relief to those in distress. Amen.