Friday, June 13, 2008

Lutheran Disaster Response to Widespread Flooding in the Midwest

Lutheran Disaster Response - LDR

Widespread flooding across the midwest
An update from Lutheran Disaster Response

June 13, 2008

One right after another, terrible storms have left indelible marks this week on individuals and communities across the Midwest, and it seems as though the news headlines have continually focused national attention on the region. As the long effort of cleaning up and rebuilding begins, Lutheran Disaster Response is poised to bring help and hope, and to walk side by side with those affected.

This week, Michael Nevergall, LDR associate, and Cindy Johnson, LDR coordinator for Minnesota, traveled to Iowa to assist LDR coordinator Michael Stadie with assessments and response there, and to accompany leaders from the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod. At the same time, Rev. Kevin Massey, LDR Director, traveled to Wisconsin to accompany leaders in the ELCA La Crosse Area and South-Central Wisconsin synods during these trying times.

Major flooding continues to spread south through Iowa, with Des Moines and other cities now under a voluntary evacuation. Across the state, fifty-four different counties have been declared state disaster areas. The city of Cedar Rapids is nearly at a stand still, with water rising into the 500-year flood plain and the downtown completely flooded. The ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod has postponed its synod assembly, scheduled for this weekend in Waverly, due to the difficulty of traveling on roads throughout the state. At least two Lutheran camp properties are under water and a number of Lutheran congregations have been directly impacted.

In Wisconsin, where we saw stunning video of the water powerfully leaving Lake Delton and ripping homes apart in its path, the waters continue to rise across the southern portion of the state. Farm fields throughout the region are completely under water, raising questions about the long-term economic impact of these floods on the region’s agriculture. Highways throughout the state are closed, making travel nearly impossible. Similarly, in Indiana, thirty counties have been declared as disaster areas, with waters still rising in portions of the state. Flooding also is affecting, or threatening to affect, communities in Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

Additionally, two major systems of tornadoes swept through portions of Iowa and Kansas this week, including the storm that killed four Boy Scouts at a camp. Scherer Memorial Lutheran (ELCA) in Chapman, Kansas sustained severe damage to its building, and the entire town is completely shut off, even to residents, at this point.

Today, Bishop Bruce Burnside of the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin traveled around the affected areas with Rev. Massey and Gary Grindeland, LDR coordinator for Wisconsin. In describing the impact of this flooding on his synod and congregations, he related the importance for the church to meet this new challenge. “God’s gift of this water seems to now be our enemy, but we are reminded that out of the waters, new life is born,” he said. “God tamed the chaos of the waters to form the earth, and God, in Jesus, calmed the stormy seas,” said Bishop Burnside.

In addition to your prayers, we invite you to consider giving to support the long-term response to this disaster. You can donate through your congregation, or you can give a gift directly by mail, by phone, or online. If you would like to designate your gift for this response, please be sure to note it for “Flooding – United States.” Gifts designated for a particular disaster will be used in full – 100% – for that response.

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