Appeal Update #1: 2013 U.S. Tornadoes, Storms and Floods

June 6, 2013

Revised Appeal Goal: $100,000 (Up from $55,000)
Received to Date: $27,000


Severe springtime weather continues to adversely affect much of the United States. In recent weeks, storms, floods and tornadoes have hit many states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

On May 15, the EF-4 tornado that hit Granbury, Texas, killed six persons and injured 37 and destroyed 70 homes. Other nearby communities affected included Rancho Brazos, Cleburne and Ennis.

On May 19, tornadoes hit Shawnee, Okla., near Oklahoma City, killing two persons and injuring 21 and destroying 40 homes.

The Oklahoma City area was struck again on May 20 when an EF-5 tornado landed on Moore and other nearby communities, including Norman and Carney.  This massive twister killed 24 persons, and injured another 387. More than 1,100 residences were destroyed and another 335 received major damage. Two elementary schools were destroyed in Moore.

On May 31, storms again struck the Oklahoma City area. Heavy rains saturated the area, resulting in flooding in many communities including the previously hard-hit town of Moore. The EF-5 tornado that hit near El Reno, Okla., was reported to be a record 2.6 miles wide with winds approaching 300 mph.  Thirteen persons are reported to have died, many of them caught in vehicles on the highway.

On May 25, a severe storm caused extensive flooding in San Antonio, Texas. The storm dropped six inches of rain in just a few hours, with some areas getting as much as 17 inches of rain. Three persons were killed in vehicles caught in the subsequent flooding. 235 persons were rescued from the floodwaters. 44 homes were severely flooded. In the suburb of Live Oak, homes were damaged by high winds and a possible EF-0 tornado.

From May 18 to June 4, severe weather impacted communities elsewhere in the nation. Straight line winds swept much of Missouri, damaging structures and causing widespread power outages. Tornadoes were reported near Wichita, Kan., where several homes were damaged, and near Des Moines, Iowa. No fatalities or injuries were reported from these events.

Heavy rains starting on May 27 have caused flooding in Iowa. The state declared 13 counties as disaster areas. Voluntary evacuations are in effect around Coralville Lake, Iowa City and Waterloo. Continuing heavy precipitation (as much as seven inches over several days) is causing many streams and rivers to exceed flood stage throughout the state.

In Michigan tornado were reported on May 28. Homes were destroyed in the town of Hadley, Mich.  Two EF-1 tornados occurred in Erie County, Pa., near Cranesville and Union City, injuring seven persons. Homes in Hebron, N.D., have been evacuated due to rising water.

Twenty tornadoes (EF-1 to EF-3) struck the Midwest on June 3. Two of the tornadoes were in the St. Louis, Mo., area. One traveled 32 miles from St. Charles County into St. Louis County.  The second started in St. Charles County near Weldon Spring and traveled into western Illinois. Up to 600 homes received major damage. There were no fatalities.

Immediate rescue operations are being conducted by local and state authorities, with other first response activities by the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and others.

CWS is now watching for the impact of rising flood waters in the central United States. Many rivers are expected to reach record flood crests in coming days as river levels continue to rise and powerful storm systems continue to drench the upper Midwest. One levee breach has occurred near West Alton, Mo., and residents are under a voluntary evacuation order. Flooding has also occurred in Paducah, Ky.

CWS Response:

CWS emergency response specialists are working with state, regional and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, known as VOADs, and with FEMA, CWS member communions and other agencies to determine where CWS and its communions can help and are needed.

Many local CWS member congregations are directly involved with housing and feeding activities. CWS will ship CWS material goods as they are requested.

To date CWS has shipped 210 CWS Baby Care Kits, 300 CWS School Kits, 1,500 CWS Hygiene Kits, 300 CWS Blankets and 185 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets to Southern Hills Christian Church in Edmond, Okla. The church agreed to serve as a temporary depot for the goods, which will be used for survivors throughout the Oklahoma City area.

CWS has also shipped 300 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets to the Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Norman, Okla., for distribution in Norman and Moore, Okla., and other nearby affected communities.

Additionally, 200 CWS Emergency Clean Up Buckets have been shipped to Granbury, Texas, where they were received by First Christian Church and then transferred to the tornado-affected area.  Habitat for Humanity will distribute the buckets to residents once electricity and running water are restored and people are allowed to return to their homes.

CWS Emergency Response Specialist Sandra Kennedy-Owes and Susanne Gilmore are close contact with numerous organizations in the affected areas, especially long-term recovery committees as they begin to organize.  CWS will support newly forming long-term recovery committees with start-up long-term recovery grants as needed. CWS emergency response specialists are also helping potential donors and volunteers learn where to best offer their services and resources.

The lead CWS emergency response specialists for this appeal are Sandra Kennedy-Owes  (251) 725-4262 (Alabama) and Susanne Gilmore  (785) 477-7823 (Kansas).

In response to the other weather-related events across much of the country, CWS emergency response specialists are in close contact with affected communities.

The other CWS emergency response specialists who can be contacted to provide information are:

Ku’ulei Funn  (808) 226-6432 (Hawaii)
Joann Hale, (917) 705-3038 (New York).


Total is $100,000. This includes:

  • $40,000 for material resources processing and shipping
  • $30,000 for emergency response grants to long-term recovery groups (projected six grants of $5,000/each)
  • $30,000 for on-scene training and consultation

How to Help

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be sent to your denomination/communion or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. (REF: 2013 Tornadoes, Appeal #627-Y.) Donations may also be made online.

CONCERNING CWS EMERGENCY CLEANUP BUCKETS AND OTHER KITS:  CWS thanks its member communions for the efforts to help restock our warehouses with material goods, such as CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets, CWS Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits and School Kits. Many people in need will benefit from these resources. All efforts to replenish our supplies for future emergencies are, as always, greatly appreciated.

CONCERNING VOLUNTEER DEPLOYMENT:  Volunteers are best utilized when part of an organized effort. The best course of action is to affiliate with a church or other responding agency. Volunteer time and talents will then be well used in planned and organized activities. There is a lot of work to be done and groups will be needed for repair and rebuilding activities for several years.

During disasters such as this, now is the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation that an individual can make is cash. Used clothing and other materials do little to restore the dignity of survivors.

CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.