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Lutheran evacuees say Manitoba flood crisis now in God’s hands

May 13, 2011 No Comment

by Keven Drews

Emergency officials erected sandbagged-braced, one-metre-tall, one-metre-wide, water-filled, sausage-like tubes around homes to protect them from damage.

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE — Members of a Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) congregation are on “pins and needles,” hours before the provincial government breaches a local dike and floods their properties, maybe even their homes.

Manitoba’s Assiniboine River is experiencing the worst flooding in 300 years, and the provincial government believes a controlled breach would flood only 150 properties and 250 square kilometers of land compared to a much larger disaster that would impact 850 homes on 500 square kilometers of land.

Initially, the government said it would make a decision Thursday. It postponed that decision until Saturday morning. Then it announced Friday afternoon that it would breach the dike early Saturday.

“I guess you could call it pins and needles because it’s the unknown,” said Simon Bueckert, a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, when asked earlier in the day about a potential breach. “It’s fear of the unknown.”

“I can’t do anything about it, so I have to leave it in God’s hands.”

Simon, 48, his wife Sheila, 42, and daughters Alicia, 14, and Kiersten, 12, live on 28 hectares of land and in a split level, 158-square-metre home about 0.8 kilometres from the dike and about 1.2 kilometres from the breach.

Already, a high water table has pushed water into their basement.

While Simon said he’s not convinced a breach would impact his home, he has evacuated his family and removed personal effects and his professional photography equipment.

He said there’s just too much stress on his wife and eldest daughter: access is restricted to the home and family members require a pass to enter it, a detour adds 16 kilometres to his trip into town, news stories are rampant and emergency workers are constantly passing by.

The church has rallied around his family, though. Simon and Sheila are staying with the congregation’s chairman, Glenn Hauser. Alicia and Kiersten are staying with its pastor, John Blum.

Others have called and offered to sandbag his home.

Eva Korfman, 66, said she, too, has received support from Redeemer members.

But she said she feels like a yo-yo because the government has put off making a decision on breaching the dike.

“Either do it or don’t,” she said.

Eva and her husband Laurence live on about 8.5 hectares and in a 185-square-metre home about 0.8 kilometres from the breach.

Late this week, emergency officials erected a sandbagged-braced, one-metre-tall, one-metre-wide, water-filled, sausage-like tube around their home to protect it from damage.

Eva said and she and her husband were ordered to evacuate late Monday, and their property is in the worst possible spot.

They’ve moved valuables off the floor of their home and moved in with one of two daughters, Debby Kruesel and her husband.

Eva said her family thinks about the breach but is not stressed out.

“We don’t go that route,” she added. “God has a plan and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Crews work on a dike as farmers not only worry about flooding but whether they will plant a crop this year.

Rev. John Blum, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, said his congregation has offered space to families who need to store equipment. He also held a special prayer meeting Wednesday.

“The families are certainly affected,” he said.

He thanked Lutheran Church–Canada for its support, too.

Meantime, Rev. Robert Bugbee, LCC president, called for prayers.

“Whether you live near the flooded areas, as I do, or are in some region that right now seems pleasant, high and dry, I hope you’ll spend time in the coming days to pray the Lord’s blessing on your beleaguered fellow Canadians threatened by the flooding,” he said this week. 

“Ask God to stand by them. Ask Him to bless the efforts of those trying to help them. Ask Him, too, to give opportunities to His children to give witness to Christ and the peace He shares with people, even in their darkest hours.”

Additional sources: Winnipeg Free Press, Globe and Mail, Canadian Press.

Prayer for those affected by spring flooding

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