From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutherans Organize Recovery Work in Minnesota

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Thu, 20 Jun 2002 16:50:59 -0500


June 20, 2002


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), a ministry of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), is organizing recovery work in Roseau and
Warroad, cities in northern Minnesota, after five to 12 inches of
rainfall produced flooding there and in surrounding areas June 9-10.
     The Roseau River crested at a record 23.2 feet, more than seven
feet above flood stage, said the Rev. Gilbert B. Furst, LDR director.
"The situation became worse [on June 11] when the river broke through a
sandbag dike that was reinforcing a levee designed to hold back the
river at 22 feet," he said.
     Initial reports indicate that 95 percent of Roseau and 90 percent
of Warroad have some water damage.  Assessments are still in progress,
Furst said.
     "Roseau is a community of about 2,700 people," said the Rev. Rolf
P. Wangberg, bishop of the ELCA Northwestern Minnesota Synod, Moorhead.
"We estimate that 600 to 800 homes are severely damaged in Roseau.  We
have no idea of the country homes," he said.
     There are three ELCA congregations in Roseau -- Messiah Lutheran
Church, Moe Lutheran Church and First Lutheran Church, said Wangberg.
"Messiah was above the flood, but water came almost up to the building.
Moe and First had basements full of water.  All three parsonages had
basements full of water," he said.
     "Warroad is on the banks of Lake of the Woods, one of the largest
fresh water lakes in the United States, lying partially in Minnesota and
part in Canada.  Zion Lutheran Church in Warroad was not flooded.
Riverside Lutheran Church in Wannaska was saved by a dike," Wangberg
     "Perhaps the saddest and most difficult to assess is the damage to
farm land," Wangberg said.  "Many farmers have lost their total crop.
Farm lands still look like lakes.  Many farmers have lost the top soil
from their fields and once-fertile farm land has been turned into gravel
and rock.  Those who have crop insurance say the insurance will cover
only the cost of putting in the crop; it will provide no income," he
     Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota is managing the LDR recovery
efforts.  An initial $10,000 grant has been provided by LDR to assist
with emergency needs and cleanup.  LDR is working with Wangberg and the
Rev. David Bode, president of the LCMS Minnesota North District,
Brainerd, to assess needs and rally local support and assistance.
     "Only local cleanup volunteers are needed at this point.  Travel
is difficult and dangerous," Furst said.  LDR is developing a plan to
coordinate local individuals or groups through Lutheran congregations in
the area.  LDR is working with local staff of the American Red Cross and
the Salvation Army, and of Baptist and United Methodist churches, he
     "As the church responds with prayers and donations, the survivors
are aware that in the midst of their losses God loves them, and God's
people will offer help and hope now and for the long haul," said Furst.
-- -- --
     Photographs from Roseau and Warroad, Minn., can be found on the
ELCA Northwestern Minnesota Synod's Web site at on the Internet.


Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to survivors
of major disasters inside the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S.
Virgin Islands, please include:

ELCA Domestic Disaster Response
P.O. Box 71764
Chicago, IL  60694-1764

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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