World Vision responds to tornadoes in central U.S.

Editor's note: At World Vision's office in New York, Mindy Mizell is coordinating media efforts concerning our response to recent tornadoes across the central United States.

Update, May 25, 3:44 pm: World Vision is also continuing its tornado response in Joplin, Missouri where our national domestic disaster director just completed an initial assessment of the neighborhoods impacted in Sunday’s deadly tornado.

“The damage in Joplin is every bit as devastating as what we’ve been responding to in Tuscaloosa,” said Phyllis Freeman, also a veteran of the agency's Hurricane Katrina response. “The damage is just as widespread but it’s a smaller community which means there are fewer resources for survivors to rely on.”

In the Twin Cities, World Vision staff are working with local churches, schools, and community partners throughout the area to provide clothing and emergency resources to the most vulnerable neighborhoods and communities impacted by Sunday's tornado that ripped through North Minneapolis.

“Our World Vision staff knows these neighborhoods well and we know someone has to focus on the kids,” said Chris Brooks, World Vision’s Twin Cities Field Site Director. “People are living without much of anything right now but we’re especially concerned about children in these communities falling through the cracks.”

World Vision will be relying on our Dallas warehouse to provide prepositioned supplies to Missouri. Our response for both tornadoes will be similar -- relief teams will be providing resources like personal care kits and cleaning supplies. Over the long-term, we anticipate sending bulk shipments of building supplies to help survivors in the tornado rebuilding efforts.

Update, May 24, 11:02 pm: "I arrived in Joplin earlier this evening. It's been raining heavily the entire time. Currently there are severe T-storm, flash flooding, and damaging wind warnings for several counties. All of the businesses in this particular section of the city are completely destroyed. Tomorrow morning I'll travel through neighborhoods that are opened for through traffic." -Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's domestic emergency response director in Joplin, Missouri.

Update, May 23, 4:27 pm: World Vision is also assessing damage from a separate tornado that devastated part of North Minneapolis on Sunday.

“We drove through the tornado-damaged areas today to see how we can help, and were heartbroken to see children standing in debris," said Chris Brooks, World Vision’s Twin Cities field site director. "These families were already distressed and had very little resources. The tornado hit one of the worst possible parts of our city in an area World Vision is already serving.”

Update, May 23, 12:47 pm: As other parts of the Southeastern United States recover from April's deadly tornadoes, another destructive tornado has hit Joplin, Missouri, leaving residents without homes and businesses. Severe damage also has devastated school buildings and hospitals in the area.

World Vision is now widening its response to the tornadoes in the U.S. South to include the Joplin area. Our assessment team will arrive this evening to determine the most urgent needs.

"We are going to be assessing the most urgent needs among children and families who have lost so much,” said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision's domestic emergency response director. “But we also know that very quickly needs will turn to clean-up essentials like rakes, work gloves, and hard hats, and World Vision intends to stand by these families as they move into the recovery phase."

There are also plans for World Vision teams to provide hygiene kits and basic cleaning supplies to tornado survivors over the next several weeks.

“Out of my 14 years doing disaster response, I have never, ever seen a weather season in the United States that is this severe, where natural disasters keep coming and we haven’t even started hurricane season," said Freeman. "It is heartbreaking to see yet another tornado devastate an entire community and to see even more children left homeless.”

As World Vision response teams also continue relief work in Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama, we're also closely monitoring the flooding situation along the Mississippi River and the possibility of more tornadoes forecasted to strike in Oklahoma this week.

World Vision's new domestic disaster headquarters is based in North Texas and provides high-quality resources nationwide to partner organizations in areas impacted by disaster situations.

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    This is absolutely heartbreaking, and I'm praying for all the people and their families that had to go through this horrific experience.

    Did any of your people possibly pick up a large solid white American Bulldog when they were in Joplin MO helping with the tornado clean up?

    Hi Karie. If we did, we would have turned it into a local shelter. Hope you find your dog! -Jonathan, WV staff

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