With many years of experience in disaster response, the outpouring of help being offered to the victims of the recent tornado disasters in Oklahoma does not surprise us. Yet in the face of such horrific tragedy, loss of life and property, the generosity of so many still inspires. Beyond monetary gifts, we have been receiving many calls and messages from individuals and organized groups, typically congregations, who are standing ready to travel to the affected areas to volunteer their time and effort and do whatever they can to help.
In the Moore area of Oklahoma, preliminary debris removal planning is underway. The City of Moore will lead those efforts and numerous agencies stand ready to assist. Early response agencies, mostly city, county, state and federal government agencies, have completed search and rescue efforts in Oklahoma. All missing persons have been accounted for. In Moore, the Oklahoma National Guard, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and other law enforcement personnel remain activated, providing security to the perimeter and other assistance in anticipation of debris removal.
No official property damage count has been completed for storms that took place May 19-20 in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties. FEMA is assisting the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and other agencies in the process of assessing damage to homes and businesses. The assessment is ongoing due to the wide scope of damage sustained in the affected areas. Preliminary aerial assessments show an estimated 1,150 homes destroyed, however, final assessments are not yet completed. It will be several days before official damage counts are completed and released.
LSS Disaster Response is in communication with Lutheran partners at the national, regional, and local level in the development of a long-term response. Plans are in development for coordination of volunteer efforts, including, as of today (Friday morning), groups outside the immediate area. We will continue to monitor the situation and post any new information regarding the coordination of volunteer efforts and other ways to assist the local recovery effort. Your continued prayers, support, and monetary donations are still critically needed.