MOORE, Okla. (BP) -- Southern Baptists throughout social media took note that NBC News anchor Brian Williams and reporter Harry Smith mentioned on air the quick response of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief workers in Moore, Okla., Tuesday (May 21).
"In the briefings today it was apparent there's FEMA and then there's the faith-based FEMA," Williams said, standing in front of rubble left by the tornado that devastated the area Monday. "There are no fewer -- I counted -- than 30 churches that are banding together, and that's going to be a huge part of this recovery."
Photo by Bob Nigh
Smith added, "As you and I have seen in so many different places in this country, if you're waiting for the government, you're going to be in for an awful long wait. The Baptist men, they're going to get it done tomorrow."
Williams agreed, "They're already delivering food on the street."
Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief workers were in action immediately after the tornado hit, responding with feeding units, debris cleanup and chaplains.
Sam Porter, director of disaster relief for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said "anywhere from 24 to 40 chaplains [will be] on the ground every day all across the storm track just to give emotional and spiritual care to people and give them hope because that's where we find a great place to minister in disaster relief."
Oklahoma Baptist chaplains were on the ground at the two destroyed elementary schools with the families as they searched for their children, Porter said, and the leader of the chaplaincy effort was involved in several official notification visits.
Porter reported that 5,500 Oklahoma Baptists were trained in disaster response before the Moore tornado hit, "and today is the day. It's game-time in Oklahoma with disaster relief."
Residents of Moore were being allowed back into their demolished neighborhoods Wednesday afternoon, and the death toll stood at 24, including at least 10 children.
The National Weather Service upgraded the storm to an EF5, estimating its winds at more than 200 miles per hour. Early estimates indicate the cost of damage from the tornado could exceed $2 billion. Read More