The Fires Continue to Rage
October 14, 2008
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As you may know, we are blessed at Shepherd of the Hills to serve as an American Red Cross evacuation center for the residents and victims in the surrounding area of the San Fernando Valley. Thanks to the donation of numerous local businesses, several thousand meals were served at our church to more than 1,000 individuals who checked in to our facilities throughout the varying stages of evacuation. We want to thank all of the local businesses who donated food: Wal-Mart, Del Taco, Bakers Square, El Torito, Panda Express, Outback Steakhouse, Abe’s Deli, Jerry’s Deli, and Brent’s Deli, Subway, Chipotle, Rubio’s and Pepsi, to name just a few. Donations and efforts continue even as this post is written, so we thank those in advance who continue to give.
In addition, hundreds of men, women, and children are volunteering their time to serve at the evacuation center. Literally within moments of this disaster, the church mobilized along with the American Red Cross in setting up the shelter. More than 500 volunteers from the Shepherd of the Hills Church are serving alongside the American Red Cross to provide whatever comforts of home they can to the evacuees. In addition to basic needs, such as food and shelter, other amenities were provided including video games and Disney movies for children, WiFi and computer access, accommodations for pets, and cell phone charging stations provided by Sprint.
My daughter, Kayla’s, basketball team volunteered to help serve the hundreds staying at the church
Many city officials have stopped by to see how the relief efforts are progressing here at Shepherd. Mayor Antonio Villariagosa visited with volunteers and evacuees for about two hours today, and returned for a press conference at 5:15 PM. Many local news reporters have also covered evacuation efforts at the church. A common observation made by these reporters and visitors was the organization of the evacuation center at the church. One American Red Cross employee, who has worked with disaster relief efforts for five years, commented that he had never seen any organization as organized as Shepherd of the Hills Church with regards to emergency relief efforts. Certain individuals have asked me if the church had been prepared for such an event. My honest response is, no, we weren’t prepared, but it only took a few minutes for people to come out of the woodwork and get organized.
Mayor Villaraigosa and I
The Herculean relief effort at the church reminds me that, if you put your trust in God, and you have the collective effort of a church, coupled with the community and the American Red Cross, we can get through anything. When the faith community and local businesses work together, we can accomplish anything. Together, we have proved this potential in the last two days.
Let’s continue to keep our brave firefighters in our prayers, as they battle the flames for two straight days, and pray that the winds would subside, allowing the firefighters to gain an upper hand in containing the fires.