After more than seven inches of rain fell on the Duluth area in just a few days, that region is now faced with flood-damaged roads, homes, and businesses.
You have seen the distressing images of cars swallowed by sinkholes in streets, blocks of homes and businesses isolated like islands, buildings ruined by flooding, even seals that swam lost and adrift from their zoo habitat.
The good news is, apparently no lives were lost in this disaster. Now the residents face long months of clean up. Some have lost their homes, businesses, and possessions.
Moose Lake seems to have suffered the most damage of our United Methodist churches. The basement took water and sewage and the church plumbing is unusable. Roads to the town had been impassible, but it is now accessible from Barnum.
The carpets at Asbury United Methodist Church in Duluth got wet, but volunteers have brought in jumbo fans and are confident that they have it under control. The church lost power during an administrative council meeting Tuesday evening, but power has returned. (This church is in the same neighborhood as the zoo, which suffered significant damage and lost some animals.) Several Asbury members have badly flooded basements.
Pastor Gary Liker reported to Big Waters District Superintendent Pam Serdar that other than a few damp spots in the sanctuary, the Barnum Community United Methodist Church is fine. Floodwaters covered about two thirds of parking lot. The youth mission trip scheduled for next week will now take place in town to work on recovery.
We are grateful to the witness of First United Methodist Church of Duluth and the Barnum church. First UMC served as a Red Cross shelter in the early hours of the flooding, giving people a safe, dry place to escape the floodwaters. The Barnum church will serve as a staging area for that town’s recovery.
Heather Klason, Minnesota Conference disaster response coordinator, has been monitoring the situation and conversing with emergency management officials. The conference disaster response team may be asked to help with basement cleanup once water has receded, she said.
I am in conversation with United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR helps with relief, cleanup, rebuilding, and pastoral counseling, particularly for the emotional support needed by children who have survived a disaster.
At this time you can support the conference Disaster Response Team by making donations through your United Methodist Church. Let your friends who are not United Methodist know that they can contribute to that fund with the confidence that 100 percent of their donations will benefit those affected by spring storms.
In the days ahead, we will keep you updated about our disaster response team’s work and UMCOR participation.
At this time, I ask you and your church to pray for all those affected by the floods. Pray that they will experience hope and strength from God as they face difficult days of recovery ahead.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church