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June 25, 2003 Lutheran Disaster Response
Contact Information:
Lutheran Disaster Response
8765 W. Higgins Rd
Chicago, IL 60631
Phone: 773-380-2822
FAX: 773-380-2493

Two new disasters: tornadoes and fires

Dear friends in Christ,

Lutheran Disaster Response (a cooperative ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) is responding to two new disasters this week, tornadoes in Nebraska and fires in Arizona.

IN NEBRASKA: On Sunday four tornadoes struck the Deshler, Nebraska, area. Disaster News Network reports that "In Deshler, home to 879 people, damage assessments showed nine homes were destroyed, 15 have major damage, and 39 have minor damage....The town of Hubbell, Neb., population 55, suffered considerable flooding" There was one fatality.

LDR is managing the response through Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (Ruth Henrichs, President). The Rev. Roger Kruger, LDR-Neb. Coordinator, is assessing the needs and meeting with pastors this week. Initial concerns are for coordination of local volunteers, clean up efforts, and pastoral care.

Bishop David deFreeze (ELCA Nebraska Synod) and President-Elect Russell Sommerfeld (LCMS Nebraska District) will also participate in the meetings. Orphan Grain Train, a member of Lutheran Disaster Response Coalition, is participating in the meetings, and stands ready to dispatch a fresh-water truck. Two Lutheran church facilities are being used by the American Red Cross for shelter and food distribution.

IN ARIZONA: Forest fires broke out north of Tucson, Arizona, last Tuesday, June 17. Since then more than 300 structures in the small town of Summerhaven have been destroyed, over 100 of them permanent homes of local residents. As of today, the blaze is only 25 percent contained. The Fire Service reports there are hopeful signs that this "Aspen Fire" is running out of fuel. The problem is made worse by the infestation of bark beetles, which have about 2.5 million ponderosa pines and at least 4 million pinyon pines during the past year.

LDR is managing the response through Lutheran Social Ministry of the Southwest (Lynn Baker, President). Jan LaWall, LDR-AZ Coordinator, and Tracy Gruenberger, staff, are connecting with the Arizona VOAD, American Red Cross, and Church World Service representatives. Initial efforts are focused on counseling, job coordination, and case management. Special thanks go to Thrivant Financial for Lutherans Foundation, which is making funding available to this response.

You can help by your prayers of support for those who have been affected and for those who are reaching out to help. The prayers of God's people are more powerful than deadly tornadoes or devastating fires.

You can help by volunteering for clean up and repairs if and when they are needed.

You can help by your contributions, which enable the national church to launch coordinated responses at once and to offer help and hope for the long haul.

To contribute:

ELCA DOMESTIC Disaster Response - "Midwest Tornadoes" or "Western Fires"
PO Box 71764
Chicago, Illinois 60694-1764

Credit card gift line: 1-800-638-3522
Credit card gifts via the web

LC-MS World Relief and Human Care - "Midwest Tornadoes" or "Western Fires"
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis, MO 63166-9810

Credit card gift line: 1-888-930-4438

Yours in Christ,

Gil Furst

Gilbert B. Furst (written on June 25, 2003 at 4:25 p.m.). Director for ELCA Domestic Disaster Response (Division for Church in Society) and Lutheran Disaster Response (a cooperative ministry of the ELCA and LC-MS) 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago 60631 PHONE: 773-380-2822 FAX: 773-380-2493 Please visit our new website