A Town Torn to Pieces
The World of Tzu Chi | March 10, 2017 by Central Region
There were 903 confirmed tornadoes in the U.S. in 2013, but only one was rated as an EF-5 category event - the most severe and destructive on the Enhanced Fujita Scale – and it roared into the town of Moore, Oklahoma, on the afternoon of May 20.
Packing peak winds of 210 miles per hour, the twister killed 24 people - including 20 children – and affected 33,000 people. With 13,000 homes destroyed, thousands of families suddenly had nowhere to return to after the wind died down.
In the aftermath, with the homes, schools, and buildings that were smashed to smithereens now in piles of rubble, the scene was a horror to behold for local residents as well as our volunteers.
“The place has become a wasteland. Who lived where – nobody knows.”
Monitoring the dire weather forecast and tornado warnings, our volunteers had been preparing in advance the day before the ensuing havoc would claim the town of Moore. Within 100 hours, the first team of volunteers was deployed from Dallas, carrying emergency supplies.
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Disaster relief distributions began on May 25 and continued until June 9, each requiring a three-hour drive to span the distance of nearly 200 miles between Dallas and Moore. But our volunteers were undeterred by the commute, their hearts reaching out to those suffering.
The shock was evident among aid recipients, and some had a hard time coming to terms with the reality of their situation and accepting the sudden reversal of fortune.
“The volunteers said that the disaster has passed and they have come to help. Now all I have to do is accept the aid and open my heart. Truly, this is very hard to do.”
Our disaster relief mission after the tornado in Moore was of direct benefit to 643 households, comprising 2,009 people. The 141 volunteers who took part were grateful that they could help those affected by the catastrophe in their greatest time of need.