USA (MNN) — The Joplin, Missouri tornado may have caused up
to $3 billion worth of damage and destroyed roughly one-quarter of the
buildings in the city.
The National Weather Service records indicate that the Joplin
tornado is the deadliest in U.S. history. They also note that tornadoes have killed 482 people in the United
States this year.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) is
assessing needs along with federal and local disaster agencies to help
devastated families and determine priorities in the hard-hit town of 50,000
residents. CRWRC-DRS Director Bill
Adams says, "It's not just Joplin. There are other communities also in this area
of Kansas and Missouri that have been pretty much completely destroyed."
The monster storm left a half-mile footprint of destruction
through Joplin's downtown area causing power disruptions, fires, gas leaks,
and communications outages. Adams says the assessment will include the
longstanding impact of the disaster. "Whether it's homes or churches or schools, I mean everything has
been destroyed. So there's going to be an enormous amount of work to get
things back again for people."
President Obama has committed support from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and National Guard, public safety, and
search-and-rescue personnel have been sent into the area from surrounding
states to assist.
In the meantime, the week-long forecast calls for more rough
weather ahead. "Pray that
lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. People are praying. We're in
that part of the country where tornadoes are a way of life this time of year."
The shock and disorientation are beginning to show. Survivors are trying to salvage something from
the rubble that was their life. Adams
notes that this is where spiritual care is critical. "Very often, simply being
on the ground with folks who have been
traumatized by something like this and being available to speak with them,
to pray with them, and to hear their story is probably one of the more
powerful things that we could do."
In the weeks ahead, as the shock wears off and the grind of
cleaning up begins, the questions will
begin. Adams says CRWRC teams will be
ready with an answer. "All of our volunteers are devout Christians. It's why we
do what we do. It starts with our own love for God and love for the Lord and
what He's done for us and then love for our fellow man. What we're able to do
then is carry that to the communities."
"In this early stage where people really need
hope, they need someone who can assure
them that things will get better. And
what better way than to talk about the love of Christ?"
CRWRC is seeking to raise $1 million to respond to urgent and
long-term needs from spring storms in 2011.