Oklahoma Baptists rapidly respond to Tulsa tornadoes

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Tornado forming west of Moore, Oklahoma. | Grant Bivens/The Baptist Messenger

MOORE, Okla. (Christian Examiner) -- Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (BGCO) teams yesterday began assessing storms even before the "extremely dangerous" tornadoes ripped through Moore, Tulsa, and other Oklahoma cities last night.

One person is reported dead and several were injured after a twister swept through the eastern part of the state and according to news reports destroyed several mobile homes west of Tulsa, authorities said.

Dave Karr, an official with the BGCO Disaster Relief Operation, told the Baptist Messenger, the Rapid Response Assessment Team immediately responded immediately responded and are "in close contact" with a network of relief agencies.

News reports indicate the fatality occurred at Riverside Park Mobile Homes near Sand Springs, where several residents were also injured. Police reported 25 to 30 homes were also destroyed. Search-and-rescue operations continue.

Sixty people, including children, took shelter in the basement of a West Tulsa gymnastics studio when the roof blew off during the storm, according to news reports, the USA Today article said.

Roaring into Tulsa County, the tornado, estimated at half-mile wide, tore through downtown Tulsa with winds between 80-90 mph, according to local new KOTV.

Another weaker tornado glanced Moore, near Oklahoma city where a deadly twister in 2013 killed more than 24 and injured more than 300 others. There cars were flipped on I-35 in Moore, closing the highway.

News reports estimate about 23,000 people in Tulsa County and 2,500 in Osage County lost power, while more than 11,000 in Oklahoma City were without power.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, with more than 5,000 trained volunteers has previously played a major role in serving victims of disasters.

During a disaster, according to the article in the Messenger, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief also provides "meal preparation for other relief agencies, and has been involved in many major disasters, including the response to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2013 Moore tornadoes and more."

Oklahoma Baptists are also part of the vast network of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organizations who cooperate through the North American Mission Board. 

For more information about Oklahoma Baptists disaster relief operation, visit www.okdisasterhelp.com.