As residents of the Midwestern United States continue to confront the effects of last week’s “bomb cyclone” weather event, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is taking steps to assess and respond to the situation.
According to The Weather Channel, a “bomb cyclone,” or bombogenesis, is a “rapidly intensifying area of low pressure” that drops at least 24 millibars within 24 hours. When that happens, there is a dramatic increase in wind and precipitation.
“Ulmer,” the winter storm behind the current flooding in Nebraska, Iowa and elsewhere, turned into a bomb cyclone last Wednesday, March 13. The combination of heavy rain on frozen ground along with ice jams and melting snow has already led to record flooding in some areas.
At this writing, there are three known deaths related to the flooding. One of those, James Wilke, was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Columbus, Neb. He died trying to save a stranded motorist.
Two other individuals have been reported missing and are presumed dead.
The Synod will be working closely with the LCMS Nebraska District to assist those affected by the flood.
On Thursday, March 21, the Rev. Michael Meyer, manager of LCMS World Relief and Human Care Disaster Response, will visit Nebraska to conduct an assessment of damage with Nebraska District President Rev. Richard L. Snow and other district officials. Meyer also is having interactions with LCMS leaders in the Iowa West, Iowa East, Minnesota South and South Wisconsin districts.
Floodwaters in many afflicted areas are just now cresting or soon will.
Based on conversations he’s already had with Nebraska District Disaster Relief Coordinator Rev. Kevin McReynolds, Meyer reports that some 20 Nebraska communities with LCMS congregations have been affected to some extent.
For example, Fremont, Neb., says Meyer, “is an island, with no way in or out.” The preschool and daycare center at an LCMS church in Columbus, Neb., have been “wiped out — a total loss.” And Norfolk, Neb., where one-third of the citizens have been evacuated, “is on the watch list.”
Norfolk also is home to Orphan Grain Train, an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. If conditions allow, said Meyer, it may be possible to use the Orphan Grain Train facility and warehouse as a staging area for distributing flood-relief materials.
Meyer’s Thursday meeting with Snow and others will occur in Seward, home of the Nebraska District office. Leaders will visit congregations in Seward as well as other sites in towns like Fremont and Columbus.
Meyer will bring with him $10,000 in LCMS gifts cards for immediate dispersal by Snow; he may also go to big-box hardware stores to buy such things as power washers and personal protection equipment.
Finally, once district and LCMS officials determine the location of the flood-relief staging area, they will send out a call for LERT (Lutheran Early Response Team) volunteers.
- How to help — lcms.org/givenow/flood
- Nebraska District Disaster Response — ndlcms.org/disaster-response
- LCMS Disaster Response — lcms.org/disaster
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available.
Posted March 18, 2019