By Sarah Schafer
“I’m standing in a parking lot here in Marysville and in every direction I look, there’s not a single house or building that hasn’t been damaged somehow,” LCMS Indiana District President Rev. Dr. Daniel P. May said Monday, March 5, while visiting the tornado-torn Indiana town that according to news reports was 90 percent destroyed.
To watch a video from Marysville, click here.
Within 25 miles of Henrysville, Ind., another area hit hard by some 20 tornadoes that struck the region March 2, there are 16 LCMS churches alone. A few LCMS members’ homes were slightly damaged in the storm, but all other Synod members and LCMS churches in the area were spared, according to LCMS Disaster Response staff.
“God has given us a place to be servants,” said May.
May joined LCMS Disaster Response personnel and the Indiana District’s disaster-response team on visits to Henryville and Marysville, Ind., which suffered major damages in the storm system that produced dozens of tornadoes across 10 states, killing at least 39 people and causing miles of destruction.
After touring Henryville on Sunday, March 4, LCMS Disaster Response Director Rev. Glenn F. Merritt noted that clean-up efforts have begun. (To see photos from Merritt’s time in Henryville, click here. To watch a video interview, click here.)
“Friends, relatives and total strangers rally to help the survivors of fierce storms pick up the pieces of their lives and go on with new lives,” Merritt said. “Many residents spoke of the loss of the schools, which are the fabric of life in rural towns across our nation. However, they were quick to add that the schools are buildings that can be rebuilt; the community is something that can’t be destroyed.
“What an amazing testimony to the resilience of people whose lives center around community — churches, schools, businesses and neighbors.”
Henryville was blanketed with 2 to 4 inches of snow Monday morning, impeding assessments and clean-up efforts.
“It’s slowing things down,” acknowledged Merritt. “Insurance adjustors can’t make sense of what’s there and what’s not.”
LCMS volunteers from Our Savior Lutheran Church, Louisville, Ky. (30 miles south of Henryville); Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, Ind.; and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Seymour, Ind., have teams of volunteers ready to help.
However, the LCMS is proceeding “cautiously, wisely and prudently so that people are helped in the best way” and to avoid duplicating efforts, ensuring that “God’s resources are used most effectively and efficiently,” said May.
Tricia Major, a member of the LCMS Indiana District disaster-response team, said volunteers will be dispatched “as soon as we have some place to send [them].”
Echoing news sources, Merritt said donations of material goods are not needed at this time. “There are stacks and stacks of water, and trucks full of items,” he said.
The district is partnering with local organizations to set up a distribution warehouse in Jeffersonville, Ind., to collect, sort and distribute donated goods.
Early Monday, Merritt and the Rev. Dr. Edward O. Grimenstein, manager of LCMS Disaster Response, met with the LCMS Indiana District disaster-response team and President May to begin planning a short- and long-term response plan.
“We are in disaster mode and will roll with the flow,” wrote Major. “God has a plan and we are waiting for Him to reveal it to us.”
At this time, the district disaster team is requesting prayers for affected families and volunteers.
Merritt continues to ask for financial support.
“The members of the LCMS are always generous,” he said. “We ask you to be generous in helping us so that we can help the Indiana District and we can help the other districts that have been affected by these widespread tornadoes.”
- Make an online donation (click here).
- Mail checks (payable to “The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod” and noting “Tornado Disaster Relief” in the memo line) to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- Call toll-free 888-930-4438.
Any funds not needed for this relief effort will be used for other disaster purposes as determined by Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Disaster Relief. Your gift is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted March 5, 2012