|Photo courtesy of KOMUNews.|
The Joplin, Mo., tornado may have
caused up to $3 billion worth of damage and destroyed roughly 25
percent 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 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. Bill Adams, of CRWRC-Disaster
Response Services, 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 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
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
“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
CRWRC is seeking to raise $1 million to
respond to urgent and long-term needs from spring storms in 2011.