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Members of Brazilian sister synod help flood victims

January 20, 2011 No Comment

Residents carry a landslide victim in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Thursday Jan. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) Source: YellowBrix

by Keven Drews

Brazilian Lutherans affiliated with Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) have escaped one of the country’s worst floods on record with their lives, say several pastors.

Earlier this month, summer storms dumped rain on the mountain region of Rio de Janeiro, causing landslides and floods and killing at least 740 people. More than 21,500 people are now homeless and 200 are still missing.

Rev. Arnildo Schneider, a member of the Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil (IELB) an LCC partner church, said his synod has contacted three pastors, and all have reported no IELB members among the victims in the state of Rio.

“In fact, there are few Lutheran members of IELB in the mountain region of Rio de Janeiro, and these haven’t been hit, thank God,” said Schneider.

“The other Lutheran synod, IECLB, in that region, is larger and has congregations in the cities of Petrópolis, Teresópolis and Nova Friburgo. There are IECLB member families that have been hit by the floods.” 

Rev. Mario Lehenbauer said while the flooding hit other cities like São Paulo and Minas Gerais, the disaster appears to have hit Rio de Janeiro the hardest.

“We were in contact with all the pastors in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and they were overwhelmed about the proportion of the destruction produced by the flooding.”

Lehenbauer said while none of his members were directly affected, those members have family living in neighbourhoods where people lost everything.

“So all our local congregations are involved in giving support in their neighbourhood, and Lutheran members are serving as volunteers to help these people,” he said.

The IELB issued an appeal to its congregations last week for money, food, clothing, water and other basic resources reported Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s mission executive. Six LCC pastors, including Dr. Neitzel are natives of Brazil.

Schneider said the rains and floods happen annually. He said local, state and federal government officials must do more prevention work to prevent other future disasters. Those living in areas at risk must be relocated, too.

“Please keep praying for the victims,” he said. “We only can thank God and you for your solidarity, tenderness and love for the Brazilian people.”

On Thursday, Brazil’s federal government announced it would develop a nationwide disaster-prevention and early-warning system. The system will take about four years to develop. Once operational, 15 radars and a supercomputer will watch weather conditions, allowing government officials enough time to evacuate people from areas at risk.

Meantime, media reports suggest the death toll could still hit 1,000.

(Editor’s note: Dr. Manfred Zeuch, president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton, translated e-mails to English from Portuguese.)

Sources: http://www.economist.com/node/17967056?story_id=17967056&fsrc=rss




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