LCMS member dies in tornado

One LCMS member died and more than 300 homes were destroyed or damaged in a tornado that ripped through Stoughton in southern Wisconsin Thursday (Aug. 18), according to Rev. Thomas Petersen, pastor of Good Shepherd-by-the-Lake Lutheran Church.

Harold Orlofske, 54, was killed when his house collapsed as he and his tornadowife, Peggy, ran into their basement, Petersen said.

On Friday, the Orlofske family — which includes daughter Joyce, 23, and son Alan, 18 — was homeless and searching for housing, said Petersen, who ministered to the family.

LCMS World Relief/Human Care Executive Director Matthew Harrison immediately approved a $3,000 emergency grant to the Good Shepherd congregation to assist the Orlofske family in transitioning to temporary housing.

This was the second such tornado-recovery assistance LCMS World Relief/Human Care provided within days.  Earlier in the week, Harrison approved a $5,000 emergency grant to Trinity Lutheran Church, Gillette, Wyo., after a tornado struck the nearby community of Wright on Aug. 13, destroying 82 homes and leaving one LCMS-member family homeless.

Harrison also is in contact with South Wisconsin District President Ronald E. Meyer about additional assistance needs and Lutheran Disaster Response Executive Director Heather Feltman to coordinate and plan for long-term recovery.

Officials say the search for housing in Stoughton, a community with a population of 10,000, may be hampered by the large loss of homes: 35 destroyed and 300 seriously damaged, according to reports. 
Good Shepherd and Orphan Grain Train have mobilized to assist tornado victims by providing meals and other basic needs at the church.  Jo Petersen, the pastor’s wife, is coordinating the effort to meet immediate physical needs while her husband provides spiritual and emotional pastoral care.

On Aug. 20, Rev. Carlos Hernandez, LCMS World Relief/Human Care’s director of Districts and Congregations, traveled to Stoughton to conduct an on-site assessment of immediate and long-term needs.  He preached at Good Shepherd the next day, sharing words of comfort with the congregation and assurances of help from LCMS World Relief/Human Care, as needed.

Roger and Peggy Klocksheim, who live in Wright, Wyo., and are members of Trinity, Gillette, and their three children were living in a motel after a tornado destroyed their home Aug. 13, according to their pastor, Rev. Scott Firminhac.  The LCMS World Relief/Human grant will assist the family with housing needs.

Two people died in that tornado, dozens were injured and 82 homes were destroyed in this coal-mining town of 1,400, according to Firminhac and published reports.

The pastors in both the Wyoming and Wisconsin parishes expressed concern about the challenge for families to find temporary housing options in their smaller communities.

“St. Paul wrote, ‘Let us do good to all, especially those of the household of the faith.’ Our prayers are with the folks hit by these storms, and we’ll do our best to assist, thanks to many, many faithful LCMS donors,” Harrison said.

To assist survivors of these tornadoes, call the LCMS Credit Card Gift Line at (888) 930-4438 or send your gift to LCMS World Relief/Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-9810.  Make your check out to LCMS World Relief and designate “August Tornadoes” in the memo line.  To learn more about the ministry, call (800) 248-1930, Ext. 1380, or click here.

Posted Aug. 22, 2005

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