Tuesday, Sept. 4, update:
Concordia College Alabama in Selma, Ala., evacuated some 70 students to a local hotel Tuesday, Sept. 4, because of flash flooding caused by heavy rains.
Concordia President Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mendedo said the college is doing everything it can to “make sure” all students are safe. Both the east and west parts of the campus were flooded, but evacuations were necessary only on the east campus where two dormitories had minor, first-floor flooding and another had second-floor water damage because of a leaking roof.
Classes at the college are expected to resume on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Streets in Selma were covered with up to 3 feet of water after an all-night rain that “overwhelmed the drainage system,” according to Assistant Selma Fire Chief Mark Walker.
No injuries related to the flooding were reported and most of the floodwater had receded by late afternoon.
Concordia College Alabama is one of 10 colleges and universities that make up The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s Concordia University System.
Sunday, Sept. 2, update:
In Jacmel, Haiti, the first case of cholera has been reported at the LCMS-sponsored clinic, according to LCMS Project Coordinator Rev. Willy Gaspar. Tropical Storm Isaac struck the island nation Aug. 25, and the LCMS released $10,000 the following day to help staff at that clinic and the Lutheran clinic in Leogane, Haiti, prevent cholera and meet other health-care needs.
Gaspar confirmed to LCMS Disaster Response staff Sept. 1 that recent LCMS donations have been used to purchase additional medicines for the Jacmel clinic in case the number of cholera cases increases.
In the United States, at least two LCMS congregations near New Orleans have reported structural and roof damage to their buildings, and one pastor’s home was flooded, according to the Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein, manager of the LCMS’ Disaster Response ministry.
“Over the next few days, the LCMS will continue to monitor those areas affected by Hurricane Isaac,” Grimenstein told Reporter. “As donations become available, we will be able to reach out even further to assist our Lutheran brethren in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and LCMS congregations here in the U.S.”
(For possible further news about LCMS disaster response to Isaac and its remnants through the remainder of the Labor Day weekend [Sept. 1-3], return to this Reporter Online story and look for the latest “Update” at the top of the story. – Editor)
By Sarah Schafer
LCMS Disaster Response is standing by throughout the long Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 3) to assist Midwestern LCMS districts that may be affected by remnants of Hurricane Isaac.
Despite being downgraded to a tropical depression Friday, the National Weather Service continued to report that storm surge, flooding and tornadoes remained a threat from Isaac.
“Within just one week, we have faced a tropical storm that killed people in Haiti and made thousands of lives more unbearable than they already were,” said LCMS Disaster Response Manager Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein. “The same storm then wreaked havoc upon New Orleans and other communities of the Gulf Coast — many areas that were still recovering from earlier storms. And now the same system is threatening to drench the Midwest in very dangerous levels of rain and possible tornado activity.
“Truly,” Grimenstein said, “our greatest hope and our only hope can be found in our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what disaster befalls us in this life, no matter how many of our worldly protections crumble before our eyes in this world, Christ’s death and resurrection will never fail us, never leave us and never abandon us.”
He noted that LCMS Disaster Response contacted district disaster-response coordinators located in Isaac’s path on Aug. 30, urging them to review protocols “should an event occur” over the weekend.
As Midwesterners prepared for potential storm destruction, assessment began in the Gulf States. On Aug. 29, the LCMS Southern District began assessing damages near Mobile, Ala., and indicated that assessment could begin in New Orleans today (Aug. 31).
Southern District Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Ed Brashier plans to arrive in the district-response area Sunday, Sept. 2.
“As Isaac and storms of all types and sizes continue to pound this great country, we are thankful that the good people of the LCMS have an increased interest in missions of mercy,” said Brashier. “I encourage every congregation to find a way to become active in recovery efforts in some way; not just if your members are affected, but as a way to make a difference in your community. In the Southern District, and I’m sure in many others, you will find willing partners in your [district] disaster-response coordinators, as you seek ways for your people to reach out with the love of Christ.”
“It is not the government, The Red Cross or other organizations that make a difference during a time of disaster. The people who make a difference are the volunteers,” said Tricia Major, a registered nurse and a member of the LCMS Indiana District’s disaster-response team who has been providing long-term disaster support following the March 2 tornado in Henryville, Ind.
“As a church,” Major continued, “we do this for our members every day. So it is just a natural extension during a disaster for churches to reach out. There is no better way to show someone God’s love than to help them when they are in need.”
Grimenstein stressed that before traveling to disaster sites, volunteers should contact their district disaster-response coordinators or Brashier directly at email@example.com (for volunteer work in the LCMS Southern District).
The Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, reported Aug. 30 that in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, 35,000 Isaac-affected people were still living in community centers, or with family or neighbors. He added that in southern Haiti, some 500,000 people were without electricity.
Following his visits to Haiti this last week of August, the Rev. Willie Gaspar, project manager for the LCMS in Haiti and a pastor in the Dominican Republic, reported that the towns there most affected by Isaac were Leogane and Marigot, with advisories of contaminated water for both locations.
Gaspar said that Lutheran clinics in Leogane and Jacmel (near Marigot), anticipate an increase in patients and are preparing for cases of cholera.
“The Leogane staff’s concern is that this crisis will more or less triple their number of patients, and they are not staffed daily,” wrote Gaspar in an email to the LCMS. He added that he and the clinic staff will find extra help during the time of increased medical needs.
Krey expressed thanks for the prayers and concern of the church, “for … reaching out to those in need and recognizing this need is much bigger than all of us. We ask for continued prayer for this need; and I am so thankful we can show the love of Christ in times like this.”
For more information about the Synod’s response to Hurricane Isaac or to support the mercy work of LCMS Disaster Response, follow the LCMS online at www.lcms.org, Twitter (www.twitter.com/thelcms), the LCMS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thelcms) and Mercy Forever blog (http://mercyforever.lcms.org).
To help those affected by the storm:
- make an online gift (click here).
- mail checks payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” (with a memo line or note designating “Hurricane Relief”) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted Aug. 31, 2012 / Updated Sept. 2, 2012 / Updated Sept. 4, 2012