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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Iowa Lutherans hit by floods

In 1993, Paul Werger, then bishop of the Southeastern Iowa Synod, was pictured on the cover of The Lutheran rowing a boat through a flooded Iowa City, Iowa, neighborhood. Behind him, a mostly submerged car peeked out of the water.

This year, Werger says, it’s worse.

June storms in the Midwest hit Iowa especially hard. The state’s agricultural losses alone could total $2 billion, and recovery costs will easily equal that figure. Two dozen people lost their lives throughout the Midwest. The crisis was compounded in some areas as the waters followed a record-setting tornado season.

Kevin Massey, director of Lutheran Disaster Response, said at least eight ELCA synods were affected by flooding, including those in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. As many as 12 have experienced disaster with the inclusion of tornados. By August, LDR will have volunteers on the ground and will be participating in multifaith recovery initiatives, he said.

Some things, though, can never be recovered. “Your heart sinks because I had a lot of my files—personal files and sermons that I’d written and photographs from many trips overseas—all stored in the basement, and that was all destroyed,” Werger said. “You kind of watch the history of your life, in many ways, just move out.”


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