By Stan Friedman
LAURENCE HARBOR, NJ (December 3, 2012) – The day care center operated by Laurence Harbor Covenant Church has re-opened after being closed for several weeks following Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s still struggling to get back on track after a huge loss of revenue, but we are making progress, and we’re still trying to reach out,” said Pastor Ray Burnett one month after Sandy struck on October 29. “Most of our kids were able to come back again after the storm was over.”
The re-opening is a hopeful sign, but the future remains uncertain as it does for many people in the region.
“A lot of people lost everything and have to start from scratch,” Burnett said. “Many are unable to even start the rebuilding process, either because their homes are now unlivable or because they have to wait for insurance monies to come through. So while things are progressing a little more every day, it will be months and even years before some of these areas will be restored. The sad truth is, some never will be.”
The Evangelical Covenant Church has been working primarily with relief work spearheaded by the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), which secured use of the cavernous Kingsbridge Armory within days of Sandy smashing into the region. Donations and the assistance of volunteers have enabled the organization to dispense more than 500 tons of food and other items. Click here to read a previously published story.
“I’m very impressed with the organization, devotion, and sensitivity of the NaLEC team members,” said Howard Burgoyne, East Coast Conference superintendent. “It is clear that these folks are following Jesus with hearts, minds and hands – loving God and loving neighbors.
“They are very well connected throughout the area, way ahead of FEMA, and running a 24/7 operation on about $500 a day in overhead,” Burgoyne said. “I don’t think we could ask for better partners in the New York City and New Jersey area if we’re serious about helping the most marginalized recover from this disaster.”
Gabriel Salguero, NaLEC president, said, “It has been amazing to see how the Covenant churches have worked around the clock both with volunteers and administration.” He noted that financial contributions from several conferences have been critical to providing food and supplies.
Michael Carrion, pastor of Promised Land Covenant Church in the Bronx, serves on the NaLEC board of directors and said he is grateful for the denomination’s assistance. The organization seeks to go forward using the “Nehemiah model – praying, rebuilding and restoring.”
That plan continues to move forward. NaLEC is no longer distributing supplies, but is raising funds and making arrangements for rebuilding projects.
Meanwhile, the pain of loss remains for many survivors, some of which is worsened by the holiday season. “Thanksgiving was tough for a lot of people here this year and Christmas may be even tougher with all the cultural ‘expectations’ thrown in,” Burnett said.
“Keep us in your prayers on a regular basis,” Burnett added. “For far too many people, this will be a very long haul.”
Multiple Covenant conferences and Covenant World Relief have contributed financial assistance. Carrion and Jose Humphrey, pastor of Metro Hope Covenant Church, shared the need for continued support from the Covenant. Click here to view a video from Humphreys, and click here to view a video from Carrion.
Click here to donate the the ongoing relief work.