Relaymedia

Powerful Tornadoes in Illinois Destroyed Up to 500 Houses; Christians Respond in Wake of Aftermath

( [email protected] ) Nov 18, 2013 09:07 PM EST

A neighborhood in the Devonshire subdivision of Washington, Illinois—an area not normally thought of as being part of Tornado Alley. (Photo : RON JOHNSON, PEORIA JOURNAL STAR/AP)
A neighborhood in the Devonshire subdivision of Washington, Illinois—an area not normally thought of as being part of Tornado Alley. (Photo : RON JOHNSON, PEORIA JOURNAL STAR/AP)

A storm system of more than 80 tornadoes swept through six states in the mid-northern region of America, where 250-500 houses in the worst hit area were bull-dozed and completed wrecked by the storm. At least eight people were killed.

"Nobody has anything left," Nancy Rampy, resident of the devastated city of Washington, Ill., told NBC Chicago. "It's all gone. It's just awful."

The National Weather Service rated the tornado that ripped through the area an ER-4 with wind speeds ranging from 170-190 mph.

The mayor of Washington, Gary Manier, said the devastation there was "unbelievable," according to NBC News. State authorities went door to door to search for people trapped in houses.

Police turned away people who had left and were trying to come back, because of concerns of unstable buildings, broken power lines that could still be alive, and rampant gas leaks.

"It is still a very dangerous situation," Illinois State Trooper Dustin Pierce told NBC station Week TV.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared seven counties disaster areas.

(Photo : Samaritan's Purse)
(Photo : Samaritan's Purse)

Christians in the tornado zone were having Sunday service as the storm approached. As a result, services along with the Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens game were interrupted.

As soon as the tornado passed, church members of First Baptist Church in Washington, Ill., went out and started to help people, pulling some from the wreckage of their homes and prayed with them, according to Baptist Press.

Christian disaster relief organizations including Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers responded within hours and disaster relief units were deployed in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. In addition, the North American Mission Board was dispatching supplies including bottled water and roofing tarp to the area Monday, the Baptist Press reported.

"The states are responding, as they always do, and we will assist them and provide support as they have need," SBDR executive director Fritz Wilson said. "That is one of the great things about working in cooperation. Just like in the Philippines, there were people [in states affected by the tornadoes] trained and ready to serve. We are supporting them and assisting with the coordination of state volunteers. Our network puts us in place before disasters ever occur."

Samaritan's Purse assessors have arrived in the hardest hit areas to determine how to help those with the greatest needs, according to the ministry's website. A Disaster Relief Unit was deployed on Monday and is en route.

The ministry's disaster relief network is looking for 15 volunteers to go to central Illinois area for at least three days. The relief work include debris removal, roof tarping and chain saw tree removal.