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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Major Disaster Waiting to Happen!

Rev. Carlos Hernandez and I went to Devil's Lake, North Dakota, after visiting the tornado damage in Wadena, Minnesota. Carlos has written his reflections below on Devil's Lake.


REFLECTIONS  By Rev. Carlos Hernandez, Director, Districts and Congregations, LCMS World Relief and Human Care

"A Major Disaster Waiting to Happen!" 

Devil's Lake, North Dakota,  Jun 22, 2010 -  North Dakota Governor John Hoeven was in town today. He is concerned, like many residents of this lakeside  community 40 miles from the Canadian border, about the rapid rise of Devil's Lake that every year is expanding its boundaries and over-flowing into farm and grazing land as well as residences.

"It is a major disaster waiting to happen," says Rev. Tim Stout, Pastor of St. Peter's LCMS here in Devil's Lake. 

Pastor Stout goes on to explain that if the lake rises just three feet more over the embankments (like Levees in New Orleans) the town of Devil's Lake would suffer something like the fate of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

 A typical scene of homes being flooded by the ever-rising Devil's Lake. This homes belongs to
John Nord, a member at St. Peter, LCMS in devil's Lake, Tim Stout, Pastor. 

We are here today by invitation, not to respond to a disaster, as we did yesterday in Wadena, Minnesota, but to assist Pastor Stout and his congregation "think through" what St. Peter's.   might do to prepare in what he feels is an inevitable disaster that would leave much of Devil's Lake residents homeless.

"St. Peter's is on high ground and would spared," Pastor Stout explains, "maybe we could serve as a shelter."

Both Pastor Stout and Bill Sharpe of the North Dakota District, who is with us today on a tour of the area, agree that as  folks lose their homes to the rising Devil's Lake, affordable housing might be a need that the congregation, District and other Lutheran entities could address.

6 Pastor Stout visits with one of his members, Stuart Gessner, standing by a lake created by the
ever-expanding Devil's Lake. Mr. Gessner  said he once grew corn where a Lake now  stands.  

Supported by Bill Sharpe, District Disaster Coordinator, Pastor does not want to wait for the disaster to happen, but to be prepared.

Yet another challenge that we toured was the Lakota Indian Reservation. The embankments in the reservation are scanty or non-existent leaving the Indian community there in an even more perilous situation.

"Road Closed" signs dot the landscape around the ever-rising, ever-expanding Devil's Lake that is
"a major disaster waiting to happen,"  fearful town folks lament. 

Overwhelmed by the multiple challenges in the face of an inevitable disaster and wondering where to start in preparing for such a disaster,   Pastor Stout asks us, "How can you help us?"

We made it very clear that LCMS WRHC stands ready, in partnership with the North Dakota District, to "bring to the table" capacity-building  resources so that St. Peter's congregation might be prepared to demonstrate the overflowing Mercy of Christ in the face of any impending disaster.

Pastor Hernandez may be reached at 314-956-2005 or

1 comment:

  1. That's where I served my vicarage. Everyone always told me that the lake was a mile wide and an inch deep.