May 21, 2013–Residents of the city of Moore, Oklahoma took a deadly hit of an E4 tornado which tore through the area on Monday afternoon, May 20. As daylight was breaking on the morning of May 21, there were at least 24 confirmed deaths, hundreds of injuries, and massive property damage. Entire neighborhoods have been wiped off the map in this suburb of Oklahoma City.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportion,” said Heartland Administrative Bishop Darrell Rice. “Many have called and inquired about Pastor Greg Garvie, his family and the RiverLife Church of God in Moore. I have not been able to get in touch with him; however, someone sent this text: ‘Just heard from one of the Garvie’s members and they’ve talked to them! They are okay! It came really close to them. The church was hit a little, but still intact. Please continue to pray.’”
Once the tragedy in Moore became apparent, Operation Compassion an independent benevolent organization with roots in the Church of God, began to formulate a strategy for relief efforts. It was not long before their disaster relief partners were contacted and plans were made to mobilize as quickly as possible. Warehouse employees began to stage 25 semi-trailers of bottled water, blankets, food and cleaning supplies as the first semis began moving early Tuesday morning.
In addition, Chaplains are ready to go with them to help survivors navigate the emotional upheaval to their lives. Heavy equipment, clean-up crews and building partners are ready to leave on Wednesday. Also, several mobile canteens and cooking crews capable of cooking thousands of meals a day will begin to leave on Thursday.
Two churches and a five acre plot of land have been secured for disaster relief. Southern Hills Church of God located about seven miles from the hardest hit area, Riverlife Church of God located in Moore just three blocks from the epicenter and five acres of land for the heavy equipment at the intersection of Interstate 35 and 240.
Operation Compassion will be able to work out of the Riverlife Church once access is gained to the devastated area. Because of the on-going search and rescue happening in the hours following the devastation, there will be limited access to disaster relief agencies.
Also headed toward the disaster site is God’s Pit Crew. According to Bishop Tim Nuckles (Louisiana Administrative Bishop and chairman of the God’s Pit Crew Board) and Randy Johnson (founder and Executive Director), GPC is committed to coordinating with Operation Compassion by bringing at least three semi-trucks loaded with food, water, tools and heavy equipment to assist in the recovery.
Pastor James Jones has agreed to have all the teams designate the Southern Hills Church of God (1029 W. I-240 Service Rd Oklahoma City, OK 73139) as the initial staging area for Operation Compassion and the Church of God’s response.
“Many have called wondering how they can help,” Bishop Rice said. “First of all, we need dozens of volunteers to assist in unloading the trucks and distributing the goods when they arrive. We’ll send out information and post it on our website the best times for volunteers to show up and assist.”
There are several ways to give to the relief effort, both through Operation Compassion and the Church of God. The important thing is that all donations will go toward Oklahoma disaster relief. Visit the Church of God website (www.churchofgod.org) and click on the disaster relief graphic, or visit www.operationcompassion.org.