Just days after a tornado with winds up to 205 mph ripped through a small farming town in central United States, Christian groups are on ground lugging in heavy equipment together with human compassion to help victims.
As many witnesses have exclaimed, the town of Greensburg, Kan., home to 1,500 people, is nearly completely demolished with the Red Cross reporting that 90 percent of Greensburg has been destroyed or heavily damaged.
"The town is completely flattened," said Bill Adams, disaster response director of Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), in a statement "so it's unlikely we'll be sending our Rapid Response Teams, which often can provide survivors with clean up and short-term repair assistance.
"Sadly, in Greensburg, there doesn't appear to be much left to repair," Adams commented.
Samaritan's Purse, which was on the ground within 24 hours following the disaster, has dispatched one of their Disaster Relief Units carrying heavy equipment tools and other needed supplies to help survivors. The group also reported that it is mobilizing volunteers to assist in clearing debris from roads, cleaning residential areas, and salvaging homeowner possessions.
However, disaster response volunteers are not currently allowed into Greensburg while the emergency phase of the disaster continues, according to Heather Feltman, executive director of Lutheran Disaster Response. She said the town is closed except to its 1,500 residents and search and rescue teams.
"Lutheran Disaster Response is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, in the form of emergency hardship grants and spiritual and emotional care," said Feltman, whose organization is a collaborative ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).
Roger Kruger, Lutheran Disaster Response coordinator, however, was given permission to enter the affected region on Monday to perform initial assessments and to connect with disaster partners in the area.
Furthermore, local Lutheran clergies and representatives from the LCMS Kansas District and ELCA Central States Synod will gather at a church in Pratt, Kan., to discuss the immediate and long-term needs of affected communities.
Lutheran Disaster Response plans to coordinate volunteer teams for debris removal and clean-up to begin this weekend.
"When a tragedy like this occurs, compassionate Christians should be on the frontline of relief efforts," said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, in response to the disaster. "Our team is on the ground to show God's love in action to the hurting people of Greensburg."