What an awful, deadly tornado season it’s been! On top of everything that has happened down South and in the MidWest recently, last night tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, killing at least 13. And more storms are on the way!
Here in Missouri, the official death toll in Joplin is now up to 122, but I heard from a friend of mine that, according to someone he knows working on the ground there, that number is really closer to 186 and counting as of yesterday afternoon. It will be a long time before we know for sure the total number. Rescue workers are still searching through demolished stores and neighborhoods trying to find survivors…or bodies. Some rescues have been made, praise God, but as many as 1500 people are still missing.
This is the message that was sent to Bishop Johnston from the Vatican:
THE MOST REVEREND JAMES V. JOHNSTON
BISHOP OF SPRINGFIELD-CAPE GIRARDEAU
THE HOLY FATHER HAS FOLLOWED WITH DEEP CONCERN THE AFTERMATH OF THE CATASTROPHIC TORNADO WHICH STRUCK JOPLIN ON SUNDAY AND HE ASKS YOU TO CONVEY TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY THE ASSURANCE OF HIS CLOSENESS IN PRAYER. CONSCIOUS OF THE TRAGIC LOSS OF LIFE AND THE IMMENSITY OF THE WORK OF REBUILDING THAT LIES AHEAD, HE ASKS GOD THE FATHER OF MERCIES TO GRANT ETERNAL REST TO THE DEPARTED, CONSOLATION TO THE GRIEVING, AND STRENGTH AND HOPE TO THE HOMELESS AND THE INJURED. UPON THE LOCAL CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS, AND UPON ALL INVOLVED IN THE RELIEF EFFORTS, HIS HOLINESS INVOKES THE DIVINE GIFTS OF WISDOM, FORTITUDE, AND PERSEVERANCE IN EVERY GOOD.
–CARDINAL TARCISIO BERTONE, SECRETARY OF STATE
The Holy Father’s words are for everyone affected, but the Catholic community in Joplin was especially hard hit Sunday, with the loss of the town’s largest Catholic parish and rectory (pictured above), an elementary school and a hospital.
You know, a few years ago I moved down to South Florida to go to school and I was always asked, “oh, but aren’t you afraid of hurricanes?” To which I always said, no, quite frankly, I’m more concerned about tornadoes in the MidWest. At least with hurricanes you get days, if not weeks, of advanced notice. Time to board up the house or get the hell outta dodge. Not so with tornadoes. Much scarier, if you ask me. (ironically, the town I was going to school in was hit by a hurricane when I was there)
*image via: Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau