Friday, April 29, 2011

Christian Relief Teams Head to the South

More than 100 reported tornadoes have devastated the South, killing as many as 248 people across six states – the worst outbreak since 1974.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. said it received 137 tornado reports into Wednesday night, including 66 in Alabama and 38 in Mississippi.

The majority of the fatalities occurred in hard-hit Alabama, with authorities recording 162 deaths from Wednesday night’s storm.

“I don’t know how anyone survived,” stated Mayor Walter Maddox to CNN. “When you look at the path of destruction that’s likely 5 to 7 miles long in an area half a mile to a mile wide … it’s an amazing scene. There’s parts of the city I don’t recognize, and that’s someone that’s lived here his entire life.”

As daylight broke Thursday, people surveyed the mass destruction that left hundreds of homes and businesses flattened, thousands of trees knocked down and household items scattered throughout the streets.

According to a statement released by Ala. Governor Robert Bentley, at least one million people in Alabama are without power. Two thousand National Guard troops were activated to help search for people who are missing in the devastated areas.

Additionally, The Associated Press counted 32 deaths in Mississippi, 32 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky.

Dozens of roads from Texas to New York were affected by the storm as well, flooded or washed out.

States of emergency were declared in several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and most recently, Virginia.

President Barack Obama approved late Wednesday Gov. Bentley’s request for emergency federal assistance, including search and rescue support, reported CNN.

“I just spoke to Governor Bentley and told him that I have ordered the Federal Government to move quickly in our response,” Obama said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to all those have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster.”

Obama will visit Alabama on Friday on his way to Cape Canaveral, Fla., to view the damage and meet with Gov. Bentley as well as other local officials.

In a statement released by The White House, FEMA reported that Director Craig Fugate will also be meeting with the Alabama governor to discuss the state’s recovery efforts.

“This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation’s history by the time it’s over,” said meteorologist Sean Morris to CNN.

The recent tornadoes are contributing to what may become a record-breaking month for twisters, where just two weeks ago Mississippi and southern parts of Alabama were hit.

Tornado watches are reportedly still being issued by the National Weather Service, along the East Coast from Georgia to the Boston area, with severe storms and winds up to 100 miles per hour.

“We expect an eruption of tornadic activity and thunderstorms along a boundary moving along the Eastern Seaboard,” Mike Mach, a National Weather Service meteorologist told The New York Times.

For now, with much of the South ravaged by the recent tornadoes, many Christian relief organizations are rallying volunteers and preparing to assist the much-needed areas.

Read More at Christian Post

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