The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Rapid Response Team, working alongside Samaritan’s Purse, is evaluating the situation closely.
A nearly-six-mile wide path of devastation included churches, schools, businesses and a Joplin hospital. One official estimated 25-30 percent of Joplin was damaged as the number of casualties make it the worst U.S. storm on record since the 1953 Worcester, Mass., which also claimed 90 lives
“We are en route to the region and will be assessing how best to respond,” said Preston Parrish, Executive Vice President of Ministries at BGEA. “Even today’s weather is further threatening people and hampering immediate rescue efforts.”
A total of 68 tornadoes were reported across seven Midwestern states on Sunday, on the heels of the late-April batch of twisters that claimed over 300 lives, including over 200 in Alabama, where the BGEA Rapid Response chaplains continue to minister to the people of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
Earlier this spring, the Rapid Response team was deployed to three N.C. cities after 24 people were killed by a series of tornadoes. Shortly before that, the chaplains were sent to Pulaski, Va., after two twisters caused an estimated $8.5 million worth of damage.
The 2011 tornado season is now the deadliest since 1953 with at least 454 people killed in 50 deadly twisters.
“Right now the pressing need is for community officials and workers to be able to stabilize the situation and provide basic necessary services,” Parrish said of the Joplin, Mo., community. “We are praying for area residents, that they will experience the presence and care of Christ in the midst of these storms.”