Situation Report Update
May 22, 2013
Yesterday, May 21, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance issued an initial report on the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. Based on media reports, the number of casualties was listed as 51 with 20 of the casualties being children. It has now been determined that the earlier reports of at least 51 deaths were erroneous. The state medical examiner's office said some of the dead were apparently counted twice during the chaotic aftermath of the twister. The official death toll now stands at 24; this total includes nine children.
Entire neighborhoods have been leveled and the true extent of the destruction from the tornado is still unknown. The estimated number of homes damaged or destroyed is around 2,400. Many families in Oklahoma were already recovering from the numerous tornadoes that touched down throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Illinois and Iowa the weekend of May 18 – 19. The President has declared a federal disaster in five Oklahoma counties.
As strong winds and warm fronts continue to move across the nation, there is a threat for future tornado outbreaks.
PDA is responding and will provide all appropriate support to Indian Nations Presbytery and the communities including Moore and Shawnee that have been impacted by this outbreak of severe tornadoes.
PDA was on the phone with the Indian Nations Presbytery just hours before the EF-5 tornado struck Moore. The warnings prompted the presbytery to close the office Monday and send staff home to prepare for the storm. Rev. Aaron Carland, presbytery executive, said "This will be a long recovery; this may even be worse than the tornado that hit Moore in 2003. The destruction is just overwhelming."
At the request of the Presbytery, PDA is sending National Response Team (NRT) members into the area to assist with connecting the presbytery with the larger response, to help assess next steps, and to provide a witness to the connectionism of the Presbyterian Church in a time of great tragedy. The first team members have arrived.
PDA is also in touch with the American Red Cross in order to coordinate efforts and offer support for their Integrated Care Teams that will be working with survivors and the families of those who were killed. Rick Turner, PDA Associate for Hospitality, is working with Brian Frick, PC(USA) Associate for Camps and Conferences, to assist in facilitating support for early responders from FEMA Corps and Americorps at nearby Presbyterian and ecumenical camp and conference facilities.
PDA will support Church World Service (CWS) in sending emergency relief supplies, such as CWS Blankets and Gift of the Heart Kits, to those in shelters. CWS plans to process five material shipments.
How you can help
You can stand in the GAP for disaster survivors, and help the church in its response:
Share your financial blessings:
- Designate gifts online to DR000015 – USA Disasters and Emergencies: write "Oklahoma" in the comments section.
- Give through your local Presbyterian congregation.
- Mail a check to Presbyterian Church (USA), P.O. Box 643700 Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700: please note “DR000015 – Oklahoma” on your gift.
- Text PDA to 20222 to donate $10 for disaster response; or call PresbyTel at (800) 872-3283 to give by credit card.
- Following disasters in the United States, there is a need for cleanup buckets for those returning home to begin the daunting task of cleaning up what the disaster left behind. Learn how to assemble a CWS Cleanup Bucket.
- Volunteers may be needed for future recovery efforts. You may email the PDA Call Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (866) 732-6121 to discuss your interest in serving. You will then be notified if/when the communities are requesting volunteers. Please keep in mind that volunteers at this time are not requested, while first responders are completing their work. Please keep them in your prayers.
As part of the body of Christ, our first and best response is prayer. Please pray for those who survived the storm and will face hard days ahead, for those who mourn loved ones lost, and that the response of the church will be an example of the faithful love of God.
Church leaders have issued a call to prayer. A Prayer in the wake of the May 20, 2013 tornado in Moore/Oklahoma City and a hymn written by Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus are available to download and print for use with your congregation. See the resources section below for additional worship resources.
Through the Cloud and Out of Chaos: A Hymn for a Hard Season, hymn by Laurie Kraus as a bulletin insert
God We’ve Known Such Grief and Anger, hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette