May 21 2013 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

    MOORE, Okla. – Dozens were killed as a historic tornado moved through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20 prompting the North American Mission Board to direct all incoming disaster relief funds to the area.

    By Tuesday morning the death toll was reported at 51 and climbing, but the medical examiner’s office later revised that to at least 24 deaths, according to The Associated Press.

    Many of the victims were children, after the tornado severely damaged two elementary schools. The search for survivors continued Tuesday, and it was unclear how many could still be trapped in rubble, dead or alive.

    Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Fred Luter expressed concern for the tragedy in the nation’s heartland.

    “On behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, our prayers and thoughts are with the families and victims of the tragic tornado in Moore, Okla.,” Luter said in a statement May 21. “Not only our prayers but disaster relief teams from across the SBC are there to assist in any way possible. May God give the citizens of Moore, Okla., comfort, strength and hope during this trying time.”
    05-21-13okla.jpg

    The death toll climbing Tuesday morning (May 21) after a two-mile wide tornado moved through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, Okla., severely damaging numerous neighborhoods and two elementary schools.


    Hundreds of people were injured as the two-mile wide tornado stayed on the ground for 40 minutes, cutting a 22-mile path in a heavily populated area. An early estimate rated the tornado as an EF4, CNN said.

    North Carolina Baptists stand ready to respond as well. The N.C. Baptist Men have alerted Oklahoma Baptists of their availability.
     
    “We have equipment and team leaders on alert for a possible response,” according to Baptist Men’s Facebook page. “We are maintaining situational awareness and in contact with national leadership. Pray for the survivors as they face the challenges of today.”
     
    Recovery volunteers were urged to contact their team or regional leaders to let them know of their availability.

    The North American Mission Board, in charge of the national Southern Baptist Disaster Relief operation, used Twitter Monday night to signal an exclusive allotment of funds.

    “We are currently directing all donations to our disaster fund to Oklahoma City relief. #prayforoklahoma,” NAMB tweeted with a link to a donation form.

    Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), circulated a letter Monday night saying he was “deeply devastated by the destruction and loss of life” caused by the Moore tornado as well as those that struck Sunday in nearby areas.

    “I pray God gives us the strength to pull together, as His people, to turn this tragedy into a moment that gives Him glory,” Jordan wrote. “Our disaster relief teams are on the scene of every area affected in Oklahoma, and we will not leave the scenes until every family is served.”

    Jordan asked Southern Baptists to pray for everyone affected by the disaster and to consider making a contribution to the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief efforts.

    “May we be the hands and feet of Christ during these crucial days,” Jordan said.

    Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams already were responding to severe weather from Sunday in Shawnee, Edmond and Little Axe when the Moore tornado hit Monday afternoon.

    “Within moments of hearing of the destruction in Moore, we put together a rapid response volunteer team to help with the cleanup and recovery efforts,” Sam Porter, the BGCO’s disaster relief director, said Monday night. “Our teams are on the ground now surveying the area and helping where we can be of most assistance.”

    At least 80 volunteers from Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief had been deployed since Sunday, including a mobile command center, a mobile kitchen and feeding units, chainsaw teams and about 10 chaplains.

    To support Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, visit donations.namb.net. In North Carolina, visit baptistsonmission.org or contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5606.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press.)
    5/21/2013 5:13:59 PM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Moore, Oklahoma, tornado




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