March 14, 2006
Early reports from Illinois, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas after mid-west tornadoes touch down.
Damage assessments are underway in the wake of weekend tornadoes that swept across several mid-western states.
The National Disaster Ministries Office has received information from UCC Disaster Response Coordinators: Will Best and Mike Lake, UCC Kansas-Oklahoma Conference; Bennett McNeal, UCC Illinois Conference; and Steve Redman, UCC Missouri Mid-South Conference who have been in contact with pastors in the impacted areas. Through the One Great Hour of Sharing special fund, Emergency USA, funds will be available to assist church members. Following are preliminary reports:
From The Reverend Peter Lucky, pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC, Lawrence, KS
"The Lawrence UCC church was damaged, having lost a couple of the spires. The building itself appears to be structurally sound." Church members are being contacted.
From The Reverend Lisa Gardner, pastor of St. Paul’s UCC, Eudora, Kansas
"We have about 5 families that received the most damage...but their homes are fine (one w/broken windows and door) most of the damage was to farm property...barns, sheds, equipment etc...(haven't heard about livestock yet). I think four of the families are still w/out electricity (which means no water) and electricity was restored to one family this morning...so we are hoping not too much longer. One of our members has a brother that lives across the road from him and his brother's house had the entire roof torn off and stuff is everywhere. We are having the families come in at noon for a hot meal (or take it out to the guys who are working & cleaning up) so we will probably get a better report after lunch. All in all, we are ok...just scary for them...thanks for thinking of us...I will pass your good wishes and concern along at lunch."
From Connie Owens, Western Association, UCC Illinois Conference
(First Congregational UCC, Springfield, IL) "... I am happy to report that neither of our Springfield churches suffered damage in the storm on Sunday! I have been in phone contact with them and learned the tornado touched down 2 1/2 blocks from one of the churches, but not even a twig was disturbed on the church property. God is good! Thank you for your e-mail and phone call."
From Sandy Roland, UCC Missouri Mid-South Conference
"The church building of Salem UCC, Little Rock, Missouri (near Arrow Rock) was completely destroyed by a tornado on Sunday evening and gravestones damaged in the cemetery. Interim Conference Minister Char Burch and our Conference Disaster Coordinator, Rev. Steve Redman from Levasy, visited the site yesterday and had the opportunity to talk with several people. Zion UCC in Arrow Rock, Missouri (about 2 miles away) has offered the use of their church building so that the people of Salem can have a place to worship and gather as they make decisions about the future. In addition to the church building, one of the church families who lived close to Salem UCC lost their home. We are grateful to hear that there were no injuries. We will keep in touch with church leaders and have offered to organize some clean-up crews when needed. We received word that some members of St. John's UCC, High Hill received damage to their homes and the parsonage at Immanuel UCC, Sedalia received some minor damage.
From Church World Service
Severe weather spawned several tornados in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas over the weekend and into Monday morning.
In northeastern Oklahoma, a tornado destroyed 25 to 50 homes in rural Delaware County near the town of Oaks, reported a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation.
As the violent weather system crossed into Missouri, more tornadoes touched down, and hail the sized of softballs reportedly fell in some parts of the state. Other hard hit areas were in and around Springfield, the entire central portion of the state and Jefferson County (south of St. Louis).
In Illinois, tornados wreaked havoc in Springfield, and today many area businesses, schools, and roads remain closed. The governor has declared a state of emergency and officials in Springfield report widespread damage, including lots of structural damage, uprooted trees and power lines, debris and lost traffic signals.
Several dozen homes are reported damaged or destroyed in northwestern Arkansas, near the area of Bentonville.
How you can help
1. Pray for people who live in communities affected by tornadoes.
2. To help those affected by disasters you may, send gifts payable to your congregation marked for "Emergency USA " with the request they be sent through your Conference office on to Wider Church Ministries.
3. Send gifts, made out to Wider Church Ministries and marked in the memo portion "Emergency USA" to the Office for Global Sharing of Resources; Wider Church Ministries; 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.
4. Make a secure on-line donation now to Emergency USA.