A “New Normal”

A "New Normal"

A “new normal.”  That’s how Governor Brown described the 17 fires that are currently burning throughout the state of California. Nevada has had similar increases in fires over the past few years.  State fire officials describe increases in the number of fires each year, and in the size and incidents of “erratic behavior” of these fires. We have all seen the destruction that has been visited on Santa Rosa and Napa, Yosemite, Lake and Mendocino Counties, and now, in the Redding area.

Last Monday, I met with Pr. Bob Swartz of St. James Lutheran in Redding, and together we attended a briefing offered by Cal Fire to provide updates on the fire burning west of Redding. This briefing was held to provide residents in the area the latest information about where the fires were burning, as well as information about evacuation orders. Many of the people in the room had already lost their homes, many others had no idea if their home was still standing because they hadn’t been allowed to return to evacuated areas. Emotions in the room were very high as people tried to deal with the devastating losses so many people had suffered, including the loss of six lives. I imagine similar briefings for people with similar emotions and a sense of loss are being held in other places around the state.

Another part of the “new normal” Governor Brown referred to is not only about the fires as they happen, but about the aftermath of these fires, and how people and communities are affected for years after the fires are quenched. It will take many years for communities to recover from the losses we have seen. And this is where Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) truly makes a difference. It is said that LDR is one of the first agencies to show up at a disaster, and the last to leave. We have seen this over the years in the wake of fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters. There is information in this newsletter as to how you can donate to LDR, as well as to Lutheran Social Services of Northern CA.

Please hold in prayer the people of Redding, Yosemite, Lake and Mendocino Counties and other areas where fires are now burning.  Please also remember to hold in prayer the people of Napa and Santa Rosa and other areas where fires of past years are still having an effect as the people of these communities try to rebuild their lives. Thank you for the way you already have made your continuing prayers and financial support our “new normal” as people of God called to be the presence of Christ for those in need.

Bp. Mark