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More storms hit

More severe weather swept through the Midwest Tuesday and Wednesday.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | May 7, 2003

More severe weather swept through the Midwest Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing high winds and hail to southern Illinois.

In Illinois, tornadoes were reported in Massac, Pulaski, Pope and Alexander Counties. Preliminary damage assessments showed at least 30 homes were destroyed. In Massac County, several mobile homes were destroyed, and the majority of those affected don't have adequate insurance, reported Church World Service.

Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Alabama and North Carolina also reported flooding and damages from storms.

Meanwhile faith-based groups continued to respond in many demolished areas throughout Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee after tornadic storms killed at least 37 people.

Many communities and towns sustained so much damage they're all but gone.

Curfews were announced in several communities to prevent looting.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has asked for a federal disaster declaration in 39 counties. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared disasters in several counties. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown was touring affected areas in Missouri and Kansas Tuesday morning.

At least 70 homes just east of Jackson, Tenn. were destroyed.

But relief and hope were arriving. Faith-based groups and local churches were already reaching out to help.

And a little help goes a long way. Zion United Church of Christ in Kansas City, Kan. has set up a meals program to feed relief workers.

Groups such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) deployed personnel in the field to assess damages.

Gil Furst of LDR explained Tuesday how difficult it was to get relief to people in need. "Many devastated areas are inaccessible or closed to relief efforts because of dangerous debris that must be removed," he reported.

Furst and many other response leaders agreed that recovery for many communities would be a long-term prospect. "It is certain that major cleanup will be needed, as well as spiritual and emotional care for the children and adults whose lives have been affected by this destructive weather," Furst said.

"Area managers are working with people in the affected communities, and with other relief organizations, to figure out how everyone can work together to make sure that people's needs are met," reported CRWRC.

Assessments have only just begun, pointed out many relief officials. "The true extent of this storm system, however, will not be known until later in this week, when rescue workers and relief teams will be able to get in to all of the disaster sites," reported CRWRC.

Church World Service (CWS) sent two representatives, one each to Kansas and Missouri, and was planning to send a third to Tennessee. CWS was also planning to issue a financial appeal.

Week of Compassion, a giving program administered by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was in contact with local churches.

Volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) were on the ground in Stockton, Mo. clearing debris. "This is the worst case I have ever seen in storms," said MDS investigator Sam Hostetler.

MDS is also sending volunteers to Pierce City, Mo., and was assessing long-term needs in other areas.

Response leaders said that, at this time, cash donations are the best way to help, since tornado survivors' needs are changing on a day-by-day basis.

After initial assessments, some responding groups will be recruiting volunteers to help rebuild homes.

Those wishing to help should not overlook the power of prayer, added Furst. "You can help by your prayers of support for those who have been affected and for those who are reaching out to help. The prayers of God's people are more powerful than these deadly tornadoes."


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Tornadoes tear through Illinois and Midwest


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