Disaster Response Network

Motivate, inform and serve as a resource for congregations to prepare plans for outreach to those in crisis, both locally and beyond. 


Flood Buckets are helping families

September 2018

In little more than a year, two-thirds of the 300 flood buckets donated to the Northeastern Iowa Synod have been used up.

Flood buckets were delivered twice to Mason City during the summer of 2018 to respond to flooding. In July of 2017, 150 buckets were delivered to Sumner. Part of that area received up to 10 inches of flooding in a 24-hours period.

Congregations brought more than 150 flood buckets to the 2017 Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly to be stored in key locations in the synod in case of flooding. St. John Lutheran, Cedar Falls, donated another 150 buckets as part of the congregation’s 150th anniversary celebration. Other congregations have reached out to help neighboring communities affected by flooding. 

Congregations are invited to help replenish the synod’s supply of flood buckets.

The buckets are distributed to communities to help people clean up their homes and businesses following a flooding disaster. Each bucket contains more than 44 household items to help with clean up efforts.

Download the flood buckets bulletin insert to learn more about how to assemble and donate a flood bucket.

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July 2018

Half of the more than 150 flood buckets collected at the 2017 Synod Assembly were put to use in response to flooding that hit the town of Sumner and the surrounding area Saturday, July 22. Parts of Northeastern Iowa received up to 10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, causing flooding throughout many areas. 

Pastor Mark Anderson and Pastor Steve Brackett, assistants to the Bishop, along with Beverly Anderson, collected nine buckets from Redeemer Lutheran in Waverly, on Saturday morning and brought the buckets, a generator and other supplies to Sumner.

Pastor Scott Duffus enlisted the help of middle school students to load 58 buckets from Grace Lutheran in Tripoli onto a trailer to deliver to the community emergency response team at the Hillcrest Home in Sumner. Later in the weekend Anderson delivered another nine buckets from Glenwood Lutheran in Decorah. 

“We were the first group there with flood buckets,” Anderson said. “Having those flood buckets on hand and ready to go made a big difference.”


St. John (Buck Creek) and St. John Evangelical were among the places receiving damage from the floods. Clean up and assistance will continue to be needed. Here are ways that congregations and individuals of the Northeastern Iowa Synod can help:

  1. 1. Donate funds to help affected families through Lutheran Disaster Response of Iowa.
  2. 2. Make flood buckets to replenish the supply stored at Tripoli. Flood Bucket List
  3. 3. Volunteer to help with clean up.

To donate or volunteer, contact Pastor Mark Anderson through email or phone, 319-352-1414.




Bremer County Flood Recovery


Pastor Mark Anderson (right), assistant to the Bishop, presents a $10,000 check from Lutheran Disaster Response of Iowa to Jeff Kolb, treasurer of the Butler County Disaster Response Coalition.


Heavy rain and floods did extensive damage to homes in Shell Rock, Clarksville and Greene; however, the level of damage did not reach the threshold needed to qualify for FEMA assistance. The Disaster Recovery Coalition was reactivated in December to assist families still in need of assistance. Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop, explains the process:

Q: What is a long-term recovery coalition”?
PMA: It is a tool for the churches, government, and non-governmental agencies to combine their resources and work as a team to help local families recover from a disaster and to increase their resiliency.

Q: What is currently happening?
PMA: The Iowa Department of Human Services has a contract with Community Action to provide case management. The local cities and media have reached out to the communities affected by the floods, inviting people who need assistance to contact the coalition. A case manager authenticates the needs and refers families to the right source for assistance. Often that assistance, especially in an emergency, is the coalition itself.

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Q: Are Lutherans involved in this Coalition?
PMA: Yes! Lutheran Disaster Response of Iowa has contributed $10,000 for the Coalition, which includes pastors in the county. In fact, Pastor Kim Smith of Faith Lutheran in Shell Rock is the Coalition chair.

Q: Where did LDR-Iowa get those funds?
PMA: Lutheran Disaster Response of Iowa is a cooperative ministry of the three Iowa Synods and Lutheran Services in Iowa. Individuals and congregations have donated to LDR-Iowa, and these funds are pooled and shared by the Southeastern, Western, and Northeastern Iowa Synods. Folks in the others synods have been very generous during this flood in offering prayers, funds, and flood buckets.

Q: How is the Coalition helping families?
PMA: There are still about 50 families who are displaced because of the flood. We are working with the case managers to give grants for families who have immediate needs but no other resources for help. We are helping families purchase things like furnaces, appliances, and building supplies so that they can get back into their homes.

Q: Is the work almost done?
PMA: By no means. We will be involved in this ministry for months — and we will not be finished until we have done all we possibly can or until every family has a safe place to live.

Visit Lutheran Disaster Response of Iowa to learn how to support Iowa flood victims.

Response to Radcliffe



A wind storm hit the community of Radcliffe on Aug. 9, 2015. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church lost portions of its roof and sustained substantial water damage in the sanctuary and in the education wing. The congregation is insured by Church Mutual and an adjuster has surveyed the damage. The congregation is now waiting for a settlement offer.

Homes and vehicles throughout the Radcliffe community sustained substantial damage. Most, Roof_smbut not all, of the damage will be covered by
insurance. The congregation has gathered a list of people who may be in need of assistance spiritually, financially, or by volunteers to help clean up. Pastor Michael Rahlf is visiting these folks and using a form to record their needs for further evaluation.

The Synod’s Disaster Response Network offers excellent resources on this web page to help congregations prepare for disaster and prepare to respond to disasters in neighboring communities.


buckets 5

Flood Buckets for Hurricane Victims


The Northeastern Iowa Synod partnered with Lutheran Disaster Response in a “flood bucket” drive to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island, New York.

Tom Fox, a member of St. James Lutheran, Rock Island, Ill., spearheaded the project. On Jan. 14, he picked up 10 buckets at Bethlehem Lutheran, Cedar Falls, and 20 buckets at St. Peter Lutheran, Dubuque to deliver to Messiah Lutheran, Staten Island. Along the way he picked up 54 buckets at his home church and another 57 buckets at Zion Lutheran, York, Penn.

“These buckets are being distributed by a local ELCA congregation in New York to victims as a witness to our faith in Jesus Christ,” says Pastor Mark Anderson, assistant to the Bishop.

Participating congregations from the Northeastern Iowa Synod were Bethlehem, St. Peter, Ridgeway Parish and St. John, Clarksville.


Iowa Hay Lift to Texas


More than 20 truckloads of hay were delivered from Iowa to Texas farmers coping with severe drought.

The hay lift was initiated by Pastor Harold McMillin of St. John Lutheran (ELCA), Luana. While visiting with Texas residents at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla., last week, Pastor McMillin learned how Texas ranchers were having to sell their herds due to a lack of food. McMillin suggested a hay lift, and the three ELCA bishops from Iowa met with three ELCA bishops from Texas to plan a joint project. They decided to designate the Northeastern Iowa Synod as a pilot synod to get the hay lift project off the ground. If this initial effort is successful, plans are for Iowa’s other two ELCA synods to organize hay lifts statewide.

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Five local farmers, including four from St. John Lutheran (ELCA), Luana, made the initial donations of hay for the project. Others have also contributed, including farmers from Waverly, Dunkerton, Garnavillo, Decorah, Ossian, Castalia, Postville, Monona, Jesup, La Porte City, Le Mars, Humboldt, Holstein, Moorhead, Dunlap, Shenandoah, Clear Lake, Wis., and Gentry Mo. Lutheran Disaster Relief contributed $25,000 to purchase additional hay and to help pay for trucking costs. Plans are to help the ranchers have enough hay to last until they are able to have their own crops again.

The biggest challenge was finding the trucks and drivers to deliver the hay.

“Heaven-Sent Hay,” Successful Farming, December 2011
“Glenwood Church sends hay to Texas,” Decorah Newspapers, 10-25-11
“Pastor hopes volunteer spirit extends to Texas hay lift,” Waterloo Courier, 10-6-11
“Iowa hay on its way to parched South,Waterloo Courier, 8-30-11 





Make a Flood Bucket!


Congregations are invited to help replenish the synod’s supply of flood buckets.


The buckets are distributed to communities to help people clean up their homes and businesses following a flooding disaster. Two-thirds of the synod’s flood buckets have been used up in the past year, so more buckets are needed!


Download the flood buckets bulletin insert to learn more about how to assemble and donate a flood bucket.


LDR Team Responds to
Mt. Pleasant Raid

The Statewide Lutheran Disaster Response Team is mobilizing to support families affected by the May 9, 2018, immigration raid at a concrete plant in Mt Pleasant, Iowa. The raid resulted in the arrest of 32 men originally from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras, leaving behind wives and children. 


The LDR Team, organized by Lutheran Services in Iowa and the three Iowa synods of the LECA, is asking for donations to assist families with food and financial support.


Learn how you can help.


Newsletter Articles



Steve O’Neil


Synod Council Liaison

Don Meyer


Synod Staff

Pastor Mark A. Anderson 






Disaster Response Network


  • Church working together.
  • Taking compassionate action.
  • Outreach locally and beyond.



  • Raise awareness about disaster needs.
  • Encourage congregations to work together in response to disaster needs.



  • Identify point of contact in each congregation of the Northeastern Iowa Synod to share about the Disaster Response Network.
  • Hold a Disaster Response Network meeting at the enxt Synod Assembly.
  • Lead a training workshop at a Synod Assembly breakout session.