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Shore's storm victims need our help

I thank The Sun for its coverage of the refusal by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and President Barack Obama to grant federal disaster relief to Maryland in the wake of Hurricane Sandy ("U.S. denies aid to Md. storm victims," Dec. 5).

The need on the lower Eastern Shore is desperate, especially in the town of Crisfield where hundreds have been displaced due to mold or damage to heat or water systems. Many of those displaced lived in federally-subsidized housing and have little prospect of being able to rebuild without considerable help. We estimate that rebuilding Crisfield will take a year or more and, now that federal money is not in the picture, this estimate may change.

While we are disappointed in the federal government's decision, those of us in local faith communities continue the disaster response efforts. Lutheran Mission Society in Baltimore ( accepts financial contributions for Crisfield response. Lutheran Partners in Disaster Response (, a joint effort of Delaware and Maryland churches in the country's two largest Lutheran bodies, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, is on site in Crisfield and has a base of operations in Salisbury.

LMS and LPDR operate with their overhead paid by existing contributions. We guarantee that 100 percent of money donated to help Crisfield goes directly to help Crisfield and others affected in Somerset County. Other agencies like the Red Cross cannot make that guarantee, nor do most agencies remain in place after the initial relief period is over. We, on the other hand, will be present for a long time.

This is the season of Advent, in which we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah telling us that every valley shall be filled and every mountain made low, of John the Baptist telling us to prepare the way for Jesus, and of Mary singing of God's overthrow of the powers of this world. It is a season of reversal. We pray that reversal may come for the people of Crisfield and all of Somerset County, and we are confident that God is with them in people who continue to work beside them as they recover from this disaster.

Rev. Timothy A. Leitzke, Odessa, Del.

The writer is pastor of the Tree of Life Lutheran Church.

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