ELCA NEWS SERVICE
June 3, 2011
ELCA Disaster Response sends grants for tornado, flood response
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Thanks to the generosity of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), ELCA Disaster Response distributed emergency grants totaling $20,000 in the wake of devastating spring storms and floods. The grants went to assist communities recovering from tornado damage in Massachusetts and floods in Montana, and preparing for possible flooding in South Dakota.
The Rev. Kevin A. Massey, director, ELCA Disaster response, said a $10,000 emergency grant was sent to Lutheran Social Services of New England for response to tornadoes that struck in the Springfield, Mass., area. At least three people died and nearly 100 people were injured.
Twenty-two refugee families served by Lutheran Social Services of New England lost their homes. Staff and volunteers are working to provide temporary shelter and eventually relocate the families, as well as assisting others who were affected by the storm.
Meanwhile, the ELCA New England Synod Assembly, which begins June 3 in Springfield, will be held as planned, said the Rev. Margaret G. Payne, bishop. The Mass Mutual Center, site of the synod assembly, is near the area that was damaged by the tornado, she said. Part of the facility is being used as a Red Cross shelter.
Payne said the synod has asked voting members and others planning to attend the assembly to bring nonperishable and other emergency food items. The food will be delivered to shelters, and after the assembly, to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, she said.
The synod assembly attendees had planned to spend part of the day on Saturday in mission projects throughout the Springfield area. Most of the projects can still be done, Payne said, and she said some projects will now be shifted to help people clean up the tornado damage.
"We're going to have an opportunity to do what matters in ways that we hadn't even expected in helping people in this town," Payne said.
In another part of the country, ELCA Disaster Response provided a $5,000 emergency grant to help Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota manage a flood volunteer reception center at Lutheran Memorial Church in Pierre, said Thomas Walsh, vice president of community services. Floodwaters, the result of snowmelt and heavy rains, are threatening several hundred homes and businesses along the Missouri River in Dakota Dunes, Fort Pierre, Pierre and Yankton.
People who need assistance can contact Lutheran Memorial for volunteer help as they prepare to evacuate threatened areas, Walsh said.
Beginning tomorrow, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to open flood gates on a series of Missouri River dams to direct as much water away from homes and businesses as possible, he added.
Massey said an emergency grant of $5,000 was sent to St. John's Lutheran Ministries, Inc., Billings, Mon., for delivery of bottled water and supplies for infants to the Crow Reservation in Montana affected by flooding of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn Rivers. The ministry also provided sump pumps, fans and carpet extractors for Joliet (Mon.) Lutheran Church, also affected by flooding.
Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response will be used entirely to respond to the series of spring storms, including tornadoes and floods. Gifts may be contributed at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster/storms on the ELCA website. Gifts may also be contributed by calling 800-638-3522, or by mail to ELCA Disaster Response, 39330 Treasury Center, Chicago, IL 60694-9300. Please write "U.S. Severe Storms" on your check's memo line.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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