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Okla., Tenn. DR responding to tornadoes, wildfires

Wildfires spread quickly in north Oklahoma City, Edmond and Guthrie on Friday, March 31 causing many to lose their homes. Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief (DR) supported first responders providing meals on Friday and Saturday (April 1).

State DR Director Jason Yarbrough reported DR will continue helping those affected by the fires, beginning Monday, April 3, with assessors, clean-up and ash-out teams.

“We were able to respond quickly in helping those who were involved with fighting fires and those affected by the fires,” Yarbrough said. “We finished today (April 1) with providing meals, but we will be back at it on Monday to serve and care for those who experienced damage or lost their homes completely.”

DR also is sending a team to Little Rock, Ark., to serve areas that experienced tornadic activity. Yarbrough said DR will send 60 team members prepared to offer complete service in Little Rock.

“We have been asked to help prepare 1,500 meals a day with our feeding unit,” he said. “We are offering assessor and chaplain teams, as well as chainsaw teams, and we will provide shower and laundry units.”

DR will set up an incident command center at Levy Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Ark. “We are planning to be there for three weeks,” Yarbrough said. “Along with Arkansas Baptists, two other state conventions will be sending DR teams to help those affected by tornadoes.”

Meanwhile, Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief is gearing up to assist Tennessee residents in the aftermath of a string of tornadoes and severe storms that struck the state on March 31 and the early morning hours of April 1.

Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said the full extent of damage across Tennessee probably won’t be known until later.

“We have assessors going to the hardest hit areas as soon as possible. Some areas, such as Covington, are still impassable, according to news reports, Jones said.

The storms were part of a larger system that swept across the central and southern portions of the United States, leaving at least nine dead with five in Arkansas, three in Indiana and one in Illinois.

In Arkansas, at least 50 people were hospitalized after a tornado hit the Little Rock area and people were trapped in homes in Wynne, Ark. Nearly 450,000 customers are without power across the U.S due to the storms, according to a tracking site. 

According to WPLN News in Nashville, early reports from West Tennessee indicate storm damage in Tipton, Haywood, McNairy and Hardin counties with possible tornado damage near Paris, Clarksville, Hohenwald, Savannah, Hartsville, Eagleville, Christiana and Woodbury.

Covington was one of the hardest hit areas, according to numerous news reports. It was hit by the same storm that caused massive damage In Wynne, Ark. Covington Mayor Jan Hensley posted that the city had been hit with severe storms and emergency services were responding, according to a report by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

A “2023 Tornado Fund” has been established at TnDisasterRelief.org for those who wish to assist in recovery efforts.

For more information or to donate to Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, visit okdisasterhelp.org.

For information or to donate to Send Relief’s tornado response, visit sendrelief.org.