LCMS Disaster Response is reaching out with mercy to LCMS congregations in Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida as they help their members and neighbors affected by a rash of tornado-packed storms that swept through the central and southern United States April 27-30. The storms killed at least 35 people, shattered dozens of homes and businesses from Oklahoma to Alabama, and caused the worst floods in decades in Florida’s Panhandle and coastal Alabama.
At least one family at Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church in Maumelle, Ark., lost their home and all their belongings, according to initial reports. Shepherd of Peace and Hope Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Ark., are determining how best to help their members and neighbors who are suffering as a result of the deadly tornadoes.
Beginning Tuesday, April 29, and at the invitation of district presidents, an LCMS team is visiting areas where LCMS churches and members have been affected by the recent storms. The team is following the path of the multiple tornadoes from Arkansas into Mississippi, heading to Tupelo Thursday, May 1, where they will join Pastor David E. Mac Kain of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Holy Trinity has reported damage to its church, the destruction of at least one member’s home and damage to the homes of several other members’ homes. From there the team is headed to the Florida Panhandle.
LCMS Disaster Response has approved an emergency grant request from LCMS Southern District President Rev. Kurtis Schultz to help the eight churches and schools that have been flooded. At least one pastor, the Rev. Randy Blankschaen, pastor of Immanual Lutheran Church in Pensacola, Fla., has reported flooding to his home.
The Rev. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response, and the Rev. Michael Meyer, manager of LCMS Disaster Response, are meeting with local and district church leaders along their path from Arkansas to Florida to assess the damage and begin to plan a coordinated disaster response.
More news will follow as we receive updated information from the field.
For more information about LCMS Disaster Response — including how to make a gift to support the Synod’s relief and recovery efforts — visit www.lcms.org/disaster.