LCC Disaster Response LERT Chainsaw Volunteers Help Families in Olive Branch, Mississippi Recover from Extensive Tornado Damage
Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) Lutheran Early Response Team (L.E.R.T.) chainsaw teams were invited by Angela Fowler, Congregation President from Beautiful Savior in Olive Branch, Mississippi, to assist with tornado recovery in their community.
On January 10, the towns of Olive Branch, Hernando, and Lewisburg in DeSoto County experienced two tornadoes in the early morning hours. The first of two reported tornadoes was rated an EF-1 storm by the National Weather Service with an estimated wind peak of 100 miles per hour, was 200 yards wide, and traveled 11.3 miles. The second tornado was rated an EF-2 storm with an estimated peak wind gust of 120 miles per hour, was 300 yards wide and traveled 8.25 miles.
LCC Director of Disaster Response, Kathy O’Day and twenty-six L.E.R.T. chainsaw certified team members are currently deployed this week, serving those affected by the tornadoes and will be returning home on Saturday, February 1. They are working through Beautiful Savior in partnership with Eight Days of Hope – Rapid Response, a non-denominational Christian, non-profit organization that exists to demonstrate the love and hope of Jesus Christ by serving those in need based in Tupelo, Mississippi.
L.E.R.T chainsaw volunteers serving from Illinois and Indiana this week:
Good Shepherd, Elgin – David Vollrath
Good Shepherd, Frankfort – Joel Powless
Lord of Life, LaFox – Larry Zagorski
Immanuel/Prince of Peace, Palatine – Jim Beckley, Steve MacKay, Dan and Bobbie Swyndroski
St. John, Shobonier – Fran Collins
St. John, Wheaton – Rachel Chester, Steve Chester, Palmer and Judy Goodwin, Marty Johnson, Jeff Johnston, Roy Rose, Ken Rosenwinkel, Dave Schlesselmann, Rich Wren
St. Paul, Rockford – Dean and Carol Ulrich
St. Peter, Schaumburg – Ken Kivarata
Trinity, Lisle – Mike Kostecki
Zion, Ottawa – Dave and Cindy Reif
St. John, Dillsboro – Steve Black, Ruth Weisbrod
On Sunday, January 27, Dr. Rev. Roger Paavola, Mid-South District President, attended worship with the LCC L.E.R.T. members at Beautiful Savior in order to meet and personally thank them for their willingness to serve in their district and to let them know what a blessing they are for what they do. It was very special that he took the time to come and express his appreciation to all.
L.E.R.T. volunteers spent the first few days cutting and removing many fallen and damaged trees that completely covered the yards of several homeowners, as well as removing dangerous leaning and dangling tree limbs.
Vance, one of the homeowners, told the team about how he heard the tornado coming toward him at 4:30 am. He barely had time to make it into a closet for cover before it was over him. He told of hearing the trees cracking and falling, his roofing shingles popping off, and he truly expected his big trees to crash through his house on top of him. He said it felt like an eternity but it was over in 6 seconds. When he came out of his house, there were about 40 trees down and twisted all around his house.
Many were resting on his roof, but not crashing through, blocking his driveway, his shed twisted, and his deck destroyed – but no major damage to his house. He said he knew God was watching over him and it was a miracle. He had no idea how he was going to clean up any of the extensive damage to his property. He was so thankful for the LCC L.E.R.T. assistance over the two days it took to clear the mess the tornado had left behind and everyone enjoyed taking the time to talk and pray with him.
The LCC L.E.R.T. team will continue to work this week, serving as many as possible during their deployment. Please continue to keep all those affected by disasters in prayer as they begin the arduous recovery process.
LCC never goes where we are not invited. We NEVER charge those we serve. We pick up all of our travel, lodging, and meal costs. We put boots on the ground within 24 hours (often fewer) from the time we get the invite.
Please consider a donation to the LCC Disaster Response General Fund or LCC Disaster Response Equipment Maintenance & Fuel Expense Fund so that we may continue to show the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need.