By Adriane Dorr
Heavy rain in the Midwest and above-average snowmelt out West have caused extensive flooding in Iowa, South Dakota and Montana. As rivers continue to rise, Lutheran families and LCMS churches in the affected areas are beginning to realize the impact.
While the Army Corps of Engineers monitors the Missouri River, residents of Dakota Dunes, S.D., have been encouraged to evacuate, packing up their belongings in semis and moving vans. Members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Dakota Dunes, “have evacuated everything at church,” said Janet Martin, church properties chair. “The company from Beatrice, Nebraska, who installed our pews even came at midnight to uninstall them for us.”
Just down the street, the U.S. Border Patrol prohibits people from entering the area and stands watch as engineers race to build a second, 40-foot-wide levee to try to hold back the water.
“We’ve had a lot of church members that have been displaced,” said Martin. “But we’re so blessed that we’ve gotten everything out and that we had time to do it. Everybody’s pitched in, and our LCMS churches have really banded together.”
Iowa District West President Dr. Paul Sieveking is keeping an eye on the situation in Iowa.
“Concordia Lutheran Church in Sioux City has opened their facilities for Holy Cross, Dakota Dunes, to worship with them and use office space for as long as needed,” he said. But downstream in Missouri Valley, “farmland will be flooded, and farmers are anticipating the loss of this year’s crop and perhaps next year’s as well.”
In Council Bluffs, people wait to see if the levees hold. If they don’t, “two of our congregations’ facilities will also likely be underwater,” said Sieveking.
The district and congregations there are helping the churches and members in need.
“We are sending information via email to all of our congregations requesting volunteers and the prayers of God’s people for our congregations and communities,” said Sieveking. “I am so pleased with the response of our congregations as they are serving their communities, making known the love of Christ by word and deed.”
Churches in Montana have been affected as well. “Flooding is expected to continue through June. With two to three times as much snow in the mountains as the 30-year average, the potential for flooding is great,” said LCMS Montana District President Rev. Terry Forke.
In Forsyth, “the basement of the parsonage and Concordia Lutheran Church were flooded by groundwater. VBS had to be canceled because the basement is unusable,” said Forke. Archives in the district office’s basement in Billings were destroyed due to groundwater flooding.
Those affected by the flooding “seem to be taking this in stride,” said Forke. “So we are waiting and praying that God will demonstrate His mercy by bringing about a cool, dry summer.”
Posted June 9, 2011