Lutheran Disaster Response -the humanitarian arm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod- has provided a $10,000 emergency grant to Lutheran Social Service (LSS) of Minnesota to assist the group in its response to last week's flurry of tornadoes.
A record 36 tornadoes ripped through parts of Minnesota last Thursday, killing three people and causing property damage to nearly 800 buildings and homes, according to reports.
Among those killed was ELCA congregant Wes Michaels, a member of Maple Lake Lutheran Church in Fertile, Minn., who died while shielding his daughter from the storm as it struck his family's gasoline station and convenience store.
Michaels' daughter Heidi told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that her father, who was celebrating his 58th birthday, was not supposed to work that day, but came in to check on her because of the storm warnings. When the storm hit, Michaels ushered her and her and several customers into the store's cooler.
"He saved me," Heidi told the Tribune.
Other casualties included one person killed at a farm near Albert Lea in southern Minnesota and a woman killed in the town of Almora in the northwestern part of the state.
The hardest hit region was the northern Minnesota town of Wadena, where over 250 buildings, including a high school and a community center, were completely destroyed.
"We have someone on the ground in (Wadena) working at organizing volunteers for cleanup," Nancy Beers, director of disaster services for LSS of Minnesota, told the ELCA News Service.
Beers further noted that long-term recovery efforts such as rebuilding homes and helping particularly affected families is on her group's agenda.
"In these areas we have a number of small rural churches that will be challenged in meeting the needs of their communities," Beers said. "One of my main concerns is helping those small churches respond to needs."