The story of Hurricane Sandy and our church …
I’m still trying to put into context the last few weeks have been. It’s been a wild ride here in Jersey. Some bullet points to try to bring you up to speed …
- Monday Oct. 29th // Superstorm Sandy – the largest Atlantic based Hurricane ever on record – makes landfall in New Jersey.
- Tuesday Oct. 30th // My family evacuates out to my parents’ place in Pennsylvania with a friend’s family from our church because power was out and thing were a little chaotic.
- Thursday Nov. 1st // We decide to cancel services for the coming weekend at Liquid Church because the State is still spinning from the effects of the storm … fuel is in short supply, schools are closed, trees aren’t being cleared from the streets.
- Friday Nov. 2nd // I go with Tom Kang to a wedding in Fort Lee, NJ. We have to out of the building quickly because their is a 6pm curfew in town. The reception is amazing … it was pulled together in less than 24 hours because the original facility was underwater.
- Sunday Nov. 4th // Only 40 people show up for Liquid services … our communication efforts to tell people not to come worked.
- Monday Nov. 5th // As a leadership team we decide we have to do something help our region dig out and heal. SandyThanksgiving.com was born. We rally our creative team and start working on pulling together the strategy.
- Wednesday Nov. 7th // Our implementation team is on site in LBI, Belmar & Staten Island … looking for places for us to mobilize 1,000+ volunteers. Our creative team works late into the night to finish up the site and launch our church engagement strategy.
- Thursday Nov. 8th // I start contacting churches and invite them to join the effort in supporting families-in-need. Initial response is very encouraging … an 8 week church plant in Ohio is the first church to indicate they will support us! Thanks Kyle! Plans are firming up for a massive Thanksgiving day outreach in Belmar, NJ. We shoot a video and invite our people to bring non-perishable food items to church on Sunday to help with the efforts.
- Sunday Nov. 11th // Our logistics team gets totally overwhelmed with the amount of relief supplies that our people bring to church. We have our second largest attendance in 2012. We invite people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans and come with us to Belmar, NJ to clean out homes, distribute relief supplies and host a Thanksgiving party. (In the first 48 hours … we have 1,000 people sign up.)
- Tuesday Nov. 13th // Our implementation teams are working towards an “advanced team” of about 250+ working in Belmar and LBI on Saturday November 17th. The amount of details being sorted out is epic … this is going to be our largest outreach by a factor of at least two and it’s we’re pulling it together in 10 days. We host a staff meeting and invite them to join us … but let them know it’s not mandatory to be with us on the weekend.
- Wednesday Nov. 14th // The press catches wind of what’s happening and we start to gain traction on our media campaign. [The Herald] [NJ Today] Churches are signing up to help us as we aid our community.
- Friday Nov. 15th // Six days before our Thanksgiving outreach … the town of Belmar, NJ is overwhelmed by the 1,000+ volunteers we want to being to help and ask us to cancel our plans for their town. Our implementation people go into overdrive to figure out what to do next. Within a few hours we shift our focus to Staten Island where the need is greater than Belmar.
- Saturday Nov. 17th // Over 200 people come to Staten Island to help clean out homes. We get the go ahead from the churches and relief organizations on the ground to mobilize our people on Thanksgiving weekend. We work to rewrite our messages for Sunday to accommodate the shift from Belmar to Staten Island.
- Sunday Nov. 18th // Excitement at Liquid Church is at an all time high. People are responding through volunteering and financially to the need.
- Monday Nov. 19th // Our implementation team is working virtually 24 hours a day (for days on end) to pull together our efforts on Staten Island. Churches continue to let us know that they will be supporting us.
- Thursday Nov. 22nd // It’s was amazing. One of the proudest days of my ministry career.
It’s been an amazing few weeks. I anticipate writing more about lessons learned from all of this in the coming days and weeks … but I wanted to bring you up to speed on what’s been happening!
Loved the account of our relief efforts Rich. I know with all the different venues we were participating in it was easy to miss one. I just have to add to your list the wonderful volunteers who on November 17th converged on Lake Como N.J. and mucked out many houses and got down and dirty for Jesus. Thank you Pastor Rich for you and Christine’s tireless and dedicated work on the front lines and in the trenches behind the scenes. Love you guys and Liquid Church.