Change Font Size:   A A A

May 23, 2011 | Pat McCaughan

Missouri: Church Members 'Shocked and Dazed' After Tornado

[ENS] The Rev. Frank Sierra helped a parishioner search for her two grandsons May 22, shortly after a deadly tornado struck around 6 p.m., slicing a six-mile long and one-half-mile wide path through Joplin in southwestern Missouri.


"People were just wandering around, dazed and confused. There were wires strewn everywhere and just plain devastation," recalled Sierra, rector of St. Philip's, the only Episcopal Church in the town of about 50,000 in the Diocese of West Missouri.


"They (the grandsons) lived about a block from the main path of the tornado," which killed 90 people, injured others and caused extensive property and other damage, Sierra said during a May 23 telephone interview from his office. "Fortunately, they're okay."


Considered the deadliest American tornado in 60 years, according to ABC News, it was part of a massive storm system that spawned 70 tornadoes in the Midwest. Tornadoes were reported in seven states from the Canadian border to Oklahoma. At least one person was reported killed in Minneapolis; warnings and watches were posted from Texas to Michigan.


Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to assist as rescuers sifted through the rubble for trapped survivors. President Barack Obama offered condolences via a statement and said he had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to support response and recovery efforts.


Sierra spent May 23 checking on the status of other parishioners. "We have not lost any members, praise God. A couple of our parishioners have lost homes and others have family members with injuries, but nothing life-threatening," he added.


Read More