A devastating two-mile wide tornado has torn through Oklahoma City suburbs in USA with winds of up to 200mph (320km/h), destroying neighbourhoods and schools.
ShelterBox Operations department is monitoring the disaster and in contact with one of its affiliates, ShelterBox USA, for the latest updates.
‘We are talking to our affiliate in the United States to get the most recent information on the disaster area,’ said ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Alice Jefferson. ‘We are also looking into whether to send a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) to the affected area to carry out a needs assessment. We are seeing which SRT members are available, closest to Oklahoma, which would enable a rapid response to support rescue efforts and help families in need.’
Moore in the south of the city is the worst hit where 41,000 people took shelter underground during the storm. News reports show debris everywhere, houses destroyed, upturned vehicles, street signs gone and power shortages.
Emergency crews are searching for people who may still be buried under the rubble. So far almost 100 people have lost their lives and nearly 250 are injured, a quarter being children due to the collapse of several schools.
‘Homes completely gone’
Shocked survivors are now seen picking through the remains of their homes.
‘There’s shingles and pieces of sheet rock and wood in our yard and all across our neighbourhood,’ Melissa Newton told the BBC. ‘Some homes are completely gone. It’s devastating.’
Ricky Stover is another survivor: ‘We locked the cellar door once we saw it coming, it got louder and next thing you know is you see the latch coming undone. We couldn’t reach for it and it ripped open the door and just glass and debris started slamming on us and we thought we were dead, to be honest.’
All of us at ShelterBox extend our heartfelt thoughts to everyone affected.