CHICAGO (ELCA) – Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are offering prayers and support for survivors and communities impacted by tornadoes and severe weather that struck the Midwest, southern and eastern parts of the United States. To date, 28 people are confirmed dead, and thousands have been impacted by storm systems since April 25. There are no reports of any ELCA congregations with property damaged by the severe weather.
"Our prayers are with those in our synod and in all of the places impacted by yesterday's (April 28) tornados and severe weather,” said the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod. “The Southeastern Synod staff and the synod’s disaster response team are monitoring the storms and forecasts for today and tonight and have begun the initial work of responding in areas in need of assistance."
Lutheran Disaster Response will provide assistance to those affected by the storms through local affiliates, social ministry organizations and ELCA synods. Lutheran Disaster Response provides assistance to survivors of natural disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. This support is carried out, both domestically and internationally, in coordination with local affiliates – social ministry organizations, agencies, partners and international companion churches – in the disaster-affected communities.
“As in the past, Lutheran Disaster Response will be involved in the long-term recovery for as long as necessary to help people restore and rebuild their lives,” said the Rev. Michael Stadie, director for Lutheran Disaster Response in the United States.
Lutheran Ministries of Alabama is working with the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency to help coordinate and manage volunteers who will help with recovery efforts in northern and western Alabama. Ron Turney, who manages disaster response for Lutheran Ministries of Alabama, said the agency is working with county officials to determine the extent of the damage before they request help from volunteers.
“We are trying to let the spontaneous volunteers, such as local churches and city workers, do their thing with tree removal to make sure everybody is OK and to get as many tarps on roofs because it’s coming again tonight,” said Turney, referring to severe weather forecasts through April 30.
Turney said he has received calls from ELCA congregations offering to send volunteers to help, but because of the additional weather threats he said the agency “will not be able to put people to work until at least next May 5.”
Worship resources and information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at http://www.elca.org/ustornadoes