Lutherans respond to tornadoes

Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) and local Lutherans are helping those affected by a cluster of 19 tornadoes that ripped through northern Illinois April 21, killing eight people in Utica, about 90 miles southeast of Chicago.
LDR is a cooperative program of the Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 
The eight killed, who ranged in age from 18 to 81, died when a 100-year-old tavern where they sought tornadoesshelter collapsed in Utica, which has about 1,000 residents.  Dozens of homes and businesses there were damaged by the category F-3 tornado that packed winds upwards of 200 miles per hour.  Damage also was reported in nearby Joliet and Granville.
In an April 22 e-mail, Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) Director Gilbert B. Furst said that Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) of Illinois and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois are coordinating LDR’s response to the storms.
Furst said that both agencies are contacting local congregations “to assess needs and encourage volunteer participation from local members.”
Furst said that the American Red Cross asked LCFS to provide a mental-health worker and was preparing to work among children at a preschool.  He said that LDR would make funds available for emergency needs.
Volunteers were not being allowed into Utica a week after the storm, when this Reporter went to press.  However, local Lutherans are preparing to volunteer there, according to Tim Hetzner of Lutheran Church Charities, based in Addison, Ill., whose agency is coordinating efforts with Lutheran Disaster Response.
Hetzner said he is not aware that any Lutherans were hurt in the storms, but several have reported property damage that will be covered by insurance.
Donations, earmarked “Midwest Tornadoes,” may be sent to LCMS World Relief, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-9810.  Or, call the credit-card gift line at (888) 930-4438.

Posted April 30, 2004

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