From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutherans Manage Tornado Relief Work In Utica, Ill.

Date Fri, 23 Apr 2004 16:08:52 -0500


April 23, 2004

Lutherans Manage Tornado Relief Work In Utica, Ill.

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), a ministry of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod (LCMS), is organizing relief and recovery work in Utica, Ill., after
19 tornadoes struck the town and other areas of Illinois April 20.  Utica
is 90 miles southwest of Chicago.
     Tornadoes in Utica killed eight people, aged 18-81.  They "died when
the 100-year-old tavern in which they sought shelter collapsed," said the
Rev. Gilbert B. Furst, LDR director.  "The storm also damaged dozens of
Utica homes and businesses, as well as affecting nearby towns of Joliet
and Granville," he said.
     "National Weather Service officials in Oklahoma said they received
reports of 51 tornadoes, most clustered in Illinois and Indiana, but some
as far as Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma," said Furst.  Utica was the hardest
hit, he said.
     Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS), River Forest,
and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Des Plaines, are coordinating
LDR's response, said Furst.  Both agencies are in contact with local
congregations to assess damages.  "They are working directly with the LCMS
Northern Illinois District and ELCA Northern Illinois Synod to assess
needs and encourage volunteer participation from local" congregations, he
     "As part of the immediate response, LCFS has been asked by the
American Red Cross to provide a mental health worker," Furst said.  There
is a pre-school 10 miles away from Utica, and LCFS is preparing to provide
"defusing and debriefing for children through a counselor," he said.
     Church World Service (CWS) will organize a long-term disaster
response plan in Utica, and LDR will participate in that effort.  "Funds
will be made available for emergency need," Furst said.  The ELCA
participates in the work of CWS.
     "As LDR responds to the survivors of this latest disaster, please
offer your prayers for the safety and well-being of those affected, as
well as those who are responding.  Donations will help the church offer
God's help and hope now and for the long haul," said Furst.
_ _ _

Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds to aid 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, Illinois
Credit card gift line: 1-800-638-3522
Credit card gifts via Internet:

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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