The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Tornadoes, storms batter the coasts

While the Upper Midwest enjoyed a respite from weather problems this past winter, storms pounded both coasts.

In Florida, four powerful tornadoes touched down Feb. 23, damaging or demolishing some 3,200 houses and killing more than 40 people. Damages were estimated at more than $100 million.

On the West Coast, successive rainstorms in February caused mudslides and flash floods, killing at least seven people. Damages top $500 million.

On the campus of Pacific Lutheran Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., weather caused about $250,000 in damage, including a roadway washed away by rain and mud. The office of Timothy Lull, seminary president, was damaged when a tree crashed through the roof and wall. Nobody was hurt.

In both California and Florida, Lutheran Disaster Response is working to help victims.

In Florida, tornadoes with winds up to 260 mph cut a swath of destruction up to 50 miles wide.

"If you drive down a street, it's like a bombed out area on both sides," said Gary Harbaugh, who works for both Lutheran Disaster Response and the Florida-Bahamas Synod bishop.

In hard-hit Kissimmee, Fla., Trinity Lutheran Church joined the recovery effort in several ways, said Pastor Peter Zieg. Trinity fed relief workers, supplied about 80 students of a damaged elementary school with backpacks filled with school supplies, and bought toiletries for those left homeless.

Trinity also attended the spiritual needs of relief workers. After serving them lunch in a school cafeteria on Ash Wednesday, Chris Conklin, the church's vicar, and Zieg held an impromptu ecumenical service, imposing ashes on those who hadn't made it to church.


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