- (Photo: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has been deployed to Granbury, Texas, after a series of tornadoes ripped through hundreds of homes on Wednesday night and left six people dead with more than 100 injured.
"It's always so difficult for survivors to comprehend the tragedy of a tornado, because everything happens so fast," said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, in a statement. "You wake up in the morning with all of your plans before you, and by the time you go to bed at night your entire world has changed and everything you once knew has been destroyed. Please pray for those who lost everything in this series of tornadoes, and especially for the loved ones of the victims."
Rescue workers were still searching for seven missing people on Thursday, CNN reported, though it was not clear whether the death toll would rise.
"We're still working to identify people," said Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds.
"The main concern is life safety and finding any victims that still need our help, making sure we tend to those victims and their pets, too," he added.
Reports have said that the six victims lived at a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood of about 110 homes, called the Rancho Brazos subdivision. The area was hit by at least 10 tornadoes, the National Weather Service said, inflicting EF4 level damage, the second-most severe classification on a scale of 0 to 5.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which deploys trained chaplains to "bring a ministry of presence and prayer and appropriately share God's love, comfort, and hope," is working alongside Samaritan's Purse, which is headed by Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. According to a statement, this is the third tornado response undertaken by the team in 2013. Previously the chaplains ministered to victims in Petal, Miss., and Shuqualak, Miss, as well as those affected by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas in April.
The Rapid Response Team was founded in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S., and has ministered to over 110,000 people globally, with outreach efforts expanding to various countries around the world. In the U.S., it has responded to hundreds of natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires and shootings.
"We are seeing where they are in their struggles, we are letting them know that we care about them, and that Jesus loves them. We want to help them get through the struggle – we are there to pray for them, to minister to them, and help them if they need to contact a church or other support networks in the area. We work with them to try and repair the grief they are going through," Keith Stiles, the RRT deployment manager, explained about the mission of the organization to The Christian Post in a 2012 interview .