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Lutheran Disaster Response

Situation Report: May Tornadoes

A map of the United States with South Dakota and Minnesota highlighted.Situation:

On the night of May 30, a series of storms, including tornadoes, swept through the Central Great Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley. In Minnesota, heavily affected communities included Eagle Bend, Clarissa and Browerville, where over 100 buildings were damaged. In South Dakota, a tornado impacted the area around the city of Brandon, severely damaging Beaver Valley Lutheran Church in Valley Springs.

 

 

A hallway destroyed by a tornado. Caption: Beaver Valley Lutheran ChurchResponse:

Lutheran Disaster Response is accompanying both the Northwestern Minnesota Synod and the South Dakota Synod as they respond to the tornadoes. The Northwestern Minnesota Synod will provide basic necessities to impacted community members in the Eagle Bend area. The South Dakota Synod is working with Beaver Valley Lutheran Church to assess its physical damage and begin rebuilding and recovery efforts. The grant from Lutheran Disaster Response will be used for storage units and office supplies to inform people of the changes to upcoming community events and worship services.

 

 

 

Be part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the tornadoes in South Dakota and Minnesota. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Tornadoes) will be used entirely  (100%) to assist tornado survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Situation Report: Kentucky Tornadoes

Situation

On the night of Dec. 10, a devastating outbreak of more than 30 tornadoes swept through six states. Kentucky was impacted the most, with more than 80 people reported dead and 1,300 homes destroyed.

Disaster survivors often seek FEMA assistance, but undocumented households may not be eligible and may have fears about seeking help from government or community resources due to the possibility of deportation, discrimination or other forms of retaliation.

 

 

 

Response

Church World Service, with support from Lutheran Disaster Response, is providing financial support for undocumented families who are unable to receive federal aid. CWS will respond to acute needs for resources and financial assistance and short-term community integration goals to promote the safety and stability of children and their families in the aftermath of the disaster. Additionally, Lutheran Disaster Response and the Indiana-Kentucky Synod are collaborating with Kentucky VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to assist in the development of long-term recovery operations.

 

 

 

Be a part of the response:

Pray
Please pray for people who have been affected by the tornadoes in Kentucky. May God’s healing presence give them peace and hope in their time of need.

Give
Thanks to generous donations, Lutheran Disaster Response is able to respond quickly and effectively to disasters around the globe. Your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response (U.S. Tornadoes) will be used in full (100%) to assist tornado survivors.

To learn more about the situation and the ELCA’s response:

  • Sign up to receive Lutheran Disaster Response alerts.
  • Check the Lutheran Disaster Response blog.
  • Like Lutheran Disaster Response on Facebook, follow @ELCALDR on Twitter, and follow @ELCA_LDR on Instagram.
  • Download the situation report and share as a PDF.

Minot, ND: Field Report

This is Pastor Michael Stadie, Program Director for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR).

Last week I returned from a week-long visit to the Minot, North Dakota area. As you know, the area was profoundly impacted by flooding in June of 2011. (Please see the previous blog post from Matthew Ley about the One-Year Anniversary events.)

While there, I had the opportunity to see the work going on at Hope Village, the volunteer and construction site for the rebuilding efforts by our affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND), and other partners. Shirley Dykshoorn is the LDR coordinator for LSSND. While the actual volunteer housing portion of Hope Village is going on hiatus, the work will continue through the winter months with volunteers staying at “satellite” sites—area congregations. Shirley and her staff are doing a great job working at making sure the volunteers and materials are coming together to efficiently help with the rebuilding process.

While progress is being made, there is still a great need for rebuilding; something that will continue for several more years. There is a special need for skilled construction workers, especially electricians and plumbers. And what is true in Minot is also true for most of the other reconstruction sites—more skilled laborers would help more families move back into their homes.

During my time there, I also made these observations:

  • This flood is unique in that it impacted every quadrant of the city.
  • The way the river flows through the city means the flood impacted many neighborhoods that are isolated from one another. For many reasons, this slows the long term recovery process.
  • Because of the above reasons, as well as some others, the long term recovery process will take longer than most flooding events.
  • Lutheran Disaster Response will need to encourage volunteer teams to work in the Minot area for a longer time than normal.

Despite the challenges, there is hope shining through, literally. The New York Says Thank You Foundation work includes asking children to make “Stars of Hope.” Children from the Minot have made stars which been put on stakes and “planted” all around the area as a symbol of hope and encouragement. These multicolored stars not only brighten up the streets, they put a smile on the face of those driving through the areas still under construction as a reminder there is indeed hope, something that the people of Minot and the surrounding area live each day.

Northeast Minnesota: Field Report

This is Pastor Michael Stadie, Director of Lutheran Disaster Response.

This past week, I had the opportunity to do a field visit to Minnesota. While there, I spent time with Nancy Beers of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota (LSS-MN); Nancy is the Lutheran Disaster Response Coordinator for the state. She is also the Director of the Camp Noah program, a ministry that works with children following a disaster, helping them to heal by processing their disaster experiences. To find out more about this program and how it makes a positive impact on the lives of children, please check out their website at www.lssmn.org/camp_noah. With the help of new staff members they are already planning ways to help children impacted by the recent disasters around the county as well as preparing for whatever disasters may be around the corner.

While Lutheran Disaster Response continues to monitor the situation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama following Hurricane Isaac, it is important that we not lose sight of other parts of the country which have been impacted by disasters this past year. As you may know, most disasters do not reach the level of a federally declared disaster, which is a necessary trigger for many funding resources. While these disasters may be considered “small” on a national stage, for those who were impacted, these disasters are “huge”. This is in-part why we say no matter how big or small a disaster and no matter how much help comes from outside a community, the response is always a local one.

An example from earlier this summer is when Barnum, Moose Lake and Duluth, Minnesota were impacted by flooding that did not receive a federal disaster declaration. Pastor Karen Bockelman, a former member of the Northeastern Minnesota synod, came out of retirement to help work with congregations and communities as they engaged in their recovery efforts. Although new to disaster work, Karen has a great grasp of the needs and is a great asset to the recovery efforts. Since federal assistance is not available, the state legislature held a special session to address the needs of those impacted by the disaster. As part of the assistance package, LSS-MN recently began providing disaster case management in the impacted areas. The LDR national office has also provided an initial grant to LSS-MN to help them begin their work. As they continue this work LDR will be there to help as needs arise.

This is a good example of how Lutheran Disaster Response and its affiliates are willing to assist even in the “small” disasters, and how the generosity of our donors, especially those who give to the undesignated disaster account, makes a significant impact in helping people to recover.

Please continue to remember the people in this part of Minnesota in your thoughts and prayers as they go through the recovery process.

Joplin, MO: Field Report

Pastor Kathy Redpath standing next to the previous site of Peace Lutheran Church.

This is Pastor Michael Stadie, Program Director for Lutheran Disaster Response with another field report.

Last week, I spent two days in Joplin, Missouri. Duane Moudy and Jim Eckrich from Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (LFCS) of Missouri were my hosts. While there are not many Lutherans in the Joplin area, Duane’s work in the community has raised the visibility of Lutheran Disaster Response a great deal; Duane is a key player in the Joplin Recovery efforts. Jim, a long time LDR Coordinator manages the Disaster Case Management Contract for LFCS. LFCS has subcontracted with several other agencies to provide these services.

Driving through the areas impacted by the May 2011 tornado, one can easily see Joplin is in full rebuilding mode. Many homes and businesses have been rebuilt; and there is a lot of construction work going on all over the impacted area. But interspersed among the completed homes are many empty lots and even whole blocks that have weeds growing up on them. Duane shared that most of these lots were rental homes where the landlord decided not to rebuild.
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McGregor, MN: Flood Waters Still Affecting Community (w/ photos)

A flooded cabin in Big Sandy Lake.
Credit: Grace Lutheran Church/McGregor, MN.

The rains that struck northeastern Minnesota at the end of July are still having an effect on the surrounding communities. Below is an update on the situation of McGregor and Big Sandy Lake from Pr. Karen G. Bockelman, Disaster Coordination for the Northeastern Minnesota Synod (ELCA). It’s a good reminder that disaster response is a marathon not a sprint and that need will continue long after the initial impact of the rains.

REPORT: Big Sandy Lake, north of McGregor, is within the Mississippi River watershed and was very heavily hit by the rains/flooding in June. It took the Mississippi River some time to crest, resulting in weeks of standing water. Only now (a month later) is it safe to begin clean up in the McGregor area. It has taken this long for the water to go down. The presence of E. coli in the water (now tested safe) as well as major fish and snail kills have contributed to the delay. All but a couple small sections of road are now passable. However, the sheriff warns that any more significant rainfall will cause the lake to rise again and might lead to still more delay.

Aitkin County officials are preparing to start the clean up process on Monday, July 23. Grace Lutheran Church, which has been serving as an information site and supply depot, will be the staging area for volunteers.

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Regarding this work at Grace Lutheran Church, I have received a few email updates and pictures from a couple who have been working with the church in this response, which I include below. Their testimony is a great example of how we can accomplish more when we work together as the body of Christ.

“I am a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in McGregor, MN. My husband and I are volunteers assisting at Grace Lutheran [in McGregor, MN] in their mission to aid in flood relief services. The need for this service is evident in the numbers of people who continue to visit Grace Church’s relief services area. Grace Lutheran is a beautiful church with amenities well-suited to this effort and it’s congregation is a community-minded resource for our area. Grace Lutheran and Holy Family participate in and enjoy women’s functions together as well. Grace Lutheran truly “lives” its mission statement.”

A flooded cabin in Big Sandy Lake.
Credit: Grace Lutheran Church/McGregor, MN.

Another flooded cabin in Big Sandy Lake.
Credit: Grace Lutheran Church/McGregor, MN.

Flooded home on Long Pointe Rd on Big Sandy Lake.
Credit: Shirley Scollard.

Tethered propane tank to prevent it causing damage.
Credit: Shirley Scollard.