New State Hotline Connects Flood Victims to Lutheran Disaster Response
Pennsylvanians seeking assistance in the wake of this summer’s widespread flooding are connecting with Lutheran Disaster Response and other service agencies through a new hotline unveiled by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“Disaster responding organizations like LDR-Eastern PA are grateful for Governor Wolf’s efforts to help those affected by recent flooding in Pennsylvania,” said Julia Menzo, Director of Community Outreach for Liberty Lutheran/Lutheran Congregational Services, whose organization has been responding to the needs of those affected by flooding in the commonwealth while continuing to serve those displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and now living in Pennsylvania.
Wolf announced a public inquiry hotline is now available to citizens who need assistance cleaning up after devastating flooding in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
“We’re working with volunteer organizations that have offered to help residents in these communities,” said Governor Wolf. “I know that some of these survivors have been hit multiple times in the last few weeks, and the willingness of these volunteers to do this hard work is greatly appreciated.”
Anyone who would like to request help should call 272-200-3211 for assistance. The hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including weekends through August 31. Volunteers will provide physical labor, such as mucking out basements, removing damaged flooring and drywall, and removing debris.
A variety of organizations make up the PA VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters). They provide assistance that complements the efforts of municipal, county and state governments. Their members active in this recovery mission include the American Red Cross, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Lions Club International, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, A.G.A.P.E of Columbia County, Mennonite Disaster Services, United Church of Christ, LDS Charities, Lend-a-Hand of Lebanon County, and Lutheran Disaster Response.
Callers will need to provide basic information, including but not limited to their address, the type of work they need help with, and the status of utility services at the site. Callers will also need to verbally give their permission for call takers to share their information with the volunteer organizations.
PEMA Director Rick Flinn said that while every effort will be made to help those who need it, the responding organizations will prioritize service delivery according to their own criteria and ability to assist. It may take several days for volunteer teams to respond.
In addition, the Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7 national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
“We know that this has been a stressful time for flooding survivors as well as first responders who have been doing stressful and dangerous work to help their neighbors,” Flinn said. “Please reach out if you need someone to talk to. Free help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”