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May 22, 2013 | Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief Resources for Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas

Episcopal Relief & Development has been in contact with local partners in the Episcopal dioceses of Fort Worth and Oklahoma following tornadoes on May 16 and May 20 that caused severe damage and loss of life.  These devastating events were caused by a large storm system that set off tornado alerts from Texas to Minnesota.  Weather threats continue, with severe thunderstorm advisories in place from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago, and the highest likelihood of tornadoes in the area between Dallas and Little Rock.


At this time, Episcopal Relief & Development encourages prayers for those impacted, and for first responders who are providing immediate assistance.  Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Tornado Response Fund will support outreach efforts in affected areas and help meet urgent needs.  Because local capacity to receive and house volunteers is currently very limited, interested individuals are requested to sign up via the US Disaster Program’s “Ready to Serve” volunteer database to be contacted down the road when help is needed.


Local responders and authorities are currently assessing the situation in Moore, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City, where a 1.3-mile-wide tornado leveled neighborhoods and destroyed two elementary schools on the evening of May 20.  Of the 24 deaths currently confirmed, seven were children at Plaza Towers Elementary School.  According to reports, debris and road damage are hampering search and rescue efforts. 


The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma posted the following message on their website: “Thank you to all who have reached out to us in response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma. We are in the process of assessing the situation and coordinating assistance to our communities.”


Katie Mears, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of US Disaster Preparedness and Response, has been in contact with the Rev. Canon José A. McLoughlin, Canon to the Ordinary, and anticipates partnering with the diocese to assist those most vulnerable following this disaster.  “We’re prepared to do what we need to do and we’re going to do what we can,” McLoughlin told Episcopal News Service in a story published on May 21.


Earlier, on May 16, an EF-4 tornado hit the town of Granbury, Texas, killing six people and destroying dozens of homes in the neighborhood of Rancho Brazos.*  Other tornadoes touched down in Cleburn and Millsap, south and west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.  The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, posted a message on the diocesan website asking for prayers and noting that the diocese will work with the local Episcopal congregation in Granbury to determine how best to use collected funds.


“Let us be the hands and feet of Christ,” he wrote, “reaching out to help our sisters and brothers affected by these devastating storms. Please join me as we hold up in prayer those who have suffered bodily injury, loss of home and especially those who have died. And please continue to pray for all the public servants who are there to serve.”


Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program offers resources for churches, parents and teachers ministering to children after disasters:


Katie Mears posts tips for advance preparedness and appropriately timed response on Episcopal Relief & Development’s blog, and the US Disaster Program’s preparedness planning guides are available in the online Resource Library.


Contributions to the Tornado Response Fund will assist dioceses responding to recent disasters, and donations to the US Disaster Fund will help sustain vital year-round preparedness and response work.  Gifts can be made online at, by calling 1.855.312.HEAL (4325) or by mailing a check to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.


Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal