Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Disaster relief work is a mission for Julie Swanson, who works with a Lutheran group.
Photo courtesy of Julie Swanson
Julie Swanson joins members of Lutheran Men in Mission who raised the money to buy and outfit a disaster response shower and laundry unit during the unit's dedication. In late June, Swanson and her husband took the unit on its first relief outing to New Jersey for use by Hurricane Sandy relief workers.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
On Sept. 17, 1989, Julie Swanson was working and living in the Virgin Islands when "Hurricane Hugo came barreling ashore at St. Croix with winds approaching 200 miles per hour."
Hugo then "slowed down to a crawl, lashing us with hours of punishing rain and wind," Swanson, now president and CEO of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, wrote in a blog.
Swanson wrote that she, her husband, Bruce, their three children and their two dogs spent the night at the Queen Louise Home for Children with 38 children, three families and eight staff members.
"My 6-year-old daughter Sara and I huddled on a small bed as debris fell around us. Through the falling cement dust, I could see the roof rise nearly six inches and then fall," Swanson wrote.
"The recovery was so long. We had no electricity for eight months," Swanson recalled during a recent telephone interview.
Those images remain with Swanson and make her act with her heart rather than her head when she listens to disaster reports.
Since Hugo, Swanson has served as a volunteer relief worker through Lutheran Disaster Response, an arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
She calls her relief work a mission, saying, "I guess I have an understanding of the time it takes to recover."
She also has a personal desire to help victims and to convey to them "that we understand."
Hence, a late June trip to the Jersey Shore that Swanson made with Bruce, their 7-year-old grandson Isaiah, and family friend Caren Martin from New Mexico.
They delivered a 38-foot disaster response shower and laundry unit to Reformation Lutheran Church in West Long Branch, N.J., for use by volunteers cleaning up the debris and destruction from Hurricane Sandy.
Bruce Swanson drove the rented Dodge Ram truck 750 miles, pulling the unit that has been stored in Roanoke County, to avoid a $2,000 delivery fee, his wife said.
The unit contains four full showers, two stackable washers and dryers, a utility sink, a table for folding clothes and its own water heater and cooling and heating units.
The $30,000 shower/laundry was outfitted by Virginia Lutheran Men in Mission as a gift to Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, an affiliate of Lutheran Disaster Response.
Swanson said the shower/laundry will be a major aid to relief workers who sleep mainly in churches and have few accommodations for showering.
Laundry facilities, she added, are virtually non-existent.
Weather JournalBreather before next wintry system