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Published on 30 October, 2012

Hurricane Sandy strengthens, East Coast grinds to a halt

USA (MNN) — The East Coast of the United States is hunkered down for the convergence of what's being called "Frankenstorm."

It starts with Hurricane Sandy–a late summer hurricane from the tropics. A ridge of high pressure steers it west–inland, rather than letting the storm move east and gradually dissipate out to sea.

Then, a wintry cold front blows in from the west, pulling Sandy further inland, and a blast of arctic air from the North freezes everything…during a full moon and at high tide. What you end up with is gale -force winds, massive storm surge, rain, and flooding–lots of flooding.

The populace living along the Atlantic coastline from the Carolinas to New England was ordered to evacuate. Schools, businesses–even Wall Street–closed down to wait out the storm's wrath.

Director of Evangelical Free Church of America TouchGlobal Mark Lewis says, "We developed some preparedness resources that we've forwarded to all of our churches in the northeast area: Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and further north into New England."

Even as the evacuation orders went out, disaster response organizations were either assisting those who have evacuated or preparing to respond. Lewis says, "We're in a ‘wait and see' mode. Obviously, we're not sure what's going to happen and where, but we do have some of our staff located in New Jersey right now. We've got some other ministry partners in Pennsylvania that are mobilized and ready to assist."

EFCA moved forward last week with pre-mobilizing volunteers, members, and partners coordinating rapid and potential long-term response plans and asking for prayers for those impacted. To some of them, this is "old hat," having responded to Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, and most recently: Hurricane Isaac.

Experts say that because the storm may just "hang" over the region and continue to buffet the area with high winds and water, damages could exceed $15 billion dollars–rivaling Irene as the worst East Coast storm on record.

Because of the expectations of damages, says Lewis, "We're also looking, at this point, to start initial contact with some folks that have served as kind of ‘first responders‘ for us. So hopefully, we'll be mobilizing some of those folks to be able to deploy."

But, mobilizing to where? With a "wait-and-see" approach and "the unknown" driving the news over the next three days, Lewis laments that "it's just such a huge area that could be affected; it's hard to know who to put where."

TouchGlobal works alongside local churches to provide crisis recovery, outreach, and evangelism to the body of Christ. "It really is bringing the hands and feet of Jesus into the lives of individual people in a very tangible way, but it also involves intentional ministry where the Word is proclaimed while the deed is being performed," says Lewis.

TouchGlobal teams are committed to helping the displaced from Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac. The foundation has already been laid through the Katrina response in New Orleans. Now, the hope is to build on the foundation that has been created from the previous generations of volunteers. It is very much the same approach to what is happening along the East Coast.

First, their teams meet the physical needs and deal with the crisis at hand. Then, says Lewis, "People ask ‘Who are you? Why are you doing this?' [Another] question that comes up: ‘Is this really free?' That's an opportunity to answer: ‘It's just like the grace that God has given us–that free Gift.' And it just allows you to speak truth into the situation and into the lives of people."

Pray for wisdom for the teams that will be responding as the days wear on. Ask God to provide both the resources needed as well as the people who will be providing supplies and hope post-storm.

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