BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE — It wasn’t the first tornado experienced by the North Salt Lake family of Nolan and Rhonda Taylor, but it was the worst.
Last Monday, the Category 5 storm cut a path through Moore City, just south of Oklahoma City, with winds up to 210 miles per hour. Category 5, on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, has the highest intensity and does the most damage.
As it passsed, it destroyed schools and homes in an area a mile wide. The path was just three miles from the mission home where the Taylors have been serving since 2010. Taylor’s call as mission president in the Oklahoma City Oklahoma City mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be completed at the end of June.
“All the missionaries had been warned for several hours to be with members that have shelters,” Taylor told the Clipper.
A dozen missionaries took refuge with the Taylors at the mission home, in a shelter much like others in the area, made of concrete with a steel door on top.
“We have to monitor forecasts throughout the entire mission on a daily basis through the peak tornado season to ensure we’re on top of the procedures, communications and advanced alerts,” Taylor said.
Missionaries are regularly trained on what to do when tornadoes are forecast, he said, and because a similar tornado devastated the same area in 1999, many homes there now have shelters.
Emergency response personnel and utility experts were still on the scene as of Wednesday morning, securing the sites and searching for survivors, said Taylor.
“The general public and the general volunteers have not been allowed into the damaged areas,” he said. “Our missionaries will be involved in the relief effort. They all bought boots and gloves and masks they can breath through as they sift through the debris and help people recover what they can from their homes.”
In one LDS ward, 21 members lost their homes completely and 13 or so more homes were substantially damaged, he said.
“The Church will orchestrate a massive, sustained relief effort,” said Taylor, who encouraged those who want to help to support the church’s humanitarian and general missionary funds.