This week has been a rough week for many locales in the Midwest with serve weather and an outbreak of tornados. Ground zero for many of these storms has been the State of Oklahoma, the center of we call “Tornado Ally” and today that state, particularly the suburban communities around Oklahoma City were devastated by what might be one of the most powerful tornados ever to hit an American city. Ground zero was the city of Moore Oklahoma, no stranger to such weather having been hit by major tornados in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Today’s tornado is estimated to be at least an EF-4 with winds of 160 miles an hour and some estimate that it could be an EF-5, the strongest category of tornado with winds of 200 miles an hour cutting a swath of destruction a mile wide at the base of the tornado and a path 20 miles long. It was on the ground about minutes hitting its crescendo as hit struck Moore. Whole neighborhoods are destroyed with only driveways and foundations remaining.
See the time lapse video on NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/51945473/#51945473
The casualties continue to mount. At least 51 are known dead and hundreds injured at the present time and the toll is certain to mount. The areas hit included residential areas as well as schools and hospitals. Two schools received direct hits and one of those schools has reported that students were killed. The major hospital in the city was destroyed and now unable to operate. First responders in many cases are often victims themselves and quite possibly will return to their homes and find that they no longer exist. Lives destroyed and disrupted and property destroyed or severely damaged. The people in Oklahoma are incredibly resilient and tough but they will need help from other Americans, both through the Federal and State Governments but also from various relief agencies such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army Disaster Services and other agencies who are trained and equipped to give aid.
This happened to our fellow citizens, Americans. These are American citizens just as other Americans were impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the city of Joplin Missouri destroyed by a tornado much like the one that hit Oklahoma today. In other places in this country whole areas have been devastated by flooding along the Mississippi, Red and Missouri Rivers, and earthquakes like the one that hit the San Francisco Bay area in 1989.
I have been through tornados, major hurricanes and severe earthquakes. I have provided emergency assistance directing an emergency shelter for a hurricane and post disaster counseling to staff members of a school destroyed by a tornado. All things being equal I would rather go through an earthquake or hurricane any day of the week before I ever want to go through another tornado. There is something unearthly in the way they wreak devastation, almost a terrible randomness as to where they hit and what survives and does not.
Please pray for those affected and do what you can to help. To do so through the Red Cross either go to their website www.redcross.org or text REDCROSS 90999. To do so through the Salvation Army go to their website https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok or text “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.” A state religious group, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is also providing relief services and those that want to donate to them can do so through their website at http://www.bgco.org/ministries/disaster-relief/donate-to-disaster-relief
Of course there are other ways to give but those are the first that came to my mind and ones that I believe will be able to respond quickly.
Please, these are Americans. I know that last year when Sandy hit the East Coast that some pundits and politicians did what they could to obstruct aid to the affected areas citing their “principles.” However to me it doesn’t matter if an American is a Republican or Democrat, if a State is a “Red State” or a “Blue State” but rather that they are Americans and that as Americans we are either in this together or we are not. As a Christian I cannot simply say that person is not my neighbor because they do not vote like me, share my faith or live in a different part of the country. They are my neighbors and if you are an American they are yours. Please do what you can to help through private means and encourage your representatives to speed Federal assistance to the people of Oklahoma and other areas hit by these terrible storms.