Multiple Deaths, Many Traumatic Injuries, School & Nursing Home Damaged
Kathy O'Day, Lutheran Church Charities Director of Disaster Response, was contacted by Dr. Rev. Roger Paavola, LCMS Mid-South District President shortly after one of the many tornado outbreaks that occurred on Easter Sunday touched down in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Dr. Rev. Paavola reports that this is the fifth tornado that has struck somewhere in his district in the last three months. Three churches are located in the affected Tennessee area. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church with Pastor Harry Sheets and First Lutheran with Pastor Joshua Woodrow in Chattanooga, and First Lutheran with Pastor Robert Seaton in Cleveland. They report that the churches did not sustain damage, but several congregation members and their families have totally lost their homes or have sustained major and minor damage.
Currently there are 3 deaths in Chattanooga and 17 hospitalized with traumatic injuries. They have identified 150 homes and businesses, including the elementary school and nursing home, that have been damaged or destroyed, but expect this number to increase as assessments are completed. In Cleveland, 76 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke stated in a press conference that an EF-3 tornado damage with winds estimated around 145 mph struck Easter Sunday night at 11:38pm. It was on the ground for 4 miles and was ½ mile wide. According to both the Mayor and Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, they do not want people to come to Chattanooga; let them get to the next stage of recovery and figure out how to utilize local volunteers. "This crisis doesn't change the need to deal with the COVID situation. People need to do their very best to maintain social distancing, which will conflict with our desire to immediately help our neighbors," said Rae Bond, CEO of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society and chairwoman of the area's COVID-19 task force.
Because of COVID-19 shelter in place national mandates, Lutheran Church Charities cannot send chainsaw teams to respond at this time, as we have recently before in this district. But, we are being asked if our donors can provide financial assistance so that the Mid-South District and these two churches can help many families begin the recovery process by providing for basic needs. This is a very difficult time as everyone has been sheltering safely in their homes, but now cannot do this. There is fear of where they will live for now and in the future, what they will do for income as some individuals had been furloughed, how will they make repairs or rebuild, and how will they ever recover from this.
LCC never goes where we are not invited and we NEVER charge those we serve.
Please prayerfully consider a donation to the LCC Disaster Response Fund so that we may continue to show the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need.