BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
LAYTON — Two years ago, the Rev. Myke Crowder and his congregation at the Christian Life Center spearheaded a fund drive to help the people of his hometown, Joplin Mo., after a tornado devastated the area.
Crowder and his son Chris are again raising money, this time for the victims of the tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla., on Monday. They hope to raise enough money in the next week to make a trip to Moore to give money to victims.
“These kinds of catastrophic events are emotional” Crowder said. “You can’t walk away from doing what you can for these people.”
He is asking for donations on the church’s website, clclayton.org, and plans to distribute to tornado victims most in need. He will contact them through pastors and bishops of The Church of Jesus Christ in the area, much as he did in Joplin.
The tornado ripped through the central Oklahoma town on Monday.
The Washington Post reported that Doppler radar estimates it delivered gusts of wind of 200 mph, the equivalent of an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. Estimates of the number of people killed was downgraded Tuesday from 51 to 24. However, that number could still change.
On Tuesday, the American Red Cross had one shelter open in Moore and three in nearby Oklahoma City and was looking to open more.
Not everyone will be located at shelters however, and their immediate situations are grim.
President Barack Obama declared the area a disaster on Tuesday and promised federal help.
“Their life, their stability, is in quicksand so to speak,” Crowder said.
Help from government agencies may be coming, but it’s sometimes slow, he said. Being handed cash under such circumstances is a godsend, he added.
Those involved in such tragic natural events are often left with no home, no job, and often no clothing or other daily necessities, Crowder said.
“They have food and water, but they don’t have cash to buy gas for their car, if they still have one, or to put a deposit down on a place to live if they can find one,” Crowder said.
Sometimes their need is more immediate. They might need to make it to a store to buy socks, underwear and shoes that fit, he said.
“I had people in Joplin fall into my arms and just sob when I handed them the money and told them it was from the people of Utah.”
The Joplin fund drive raised $40,000, $15,000 from Crowder’s own congregation.
Crowder plans to leave for Moore by the end of next week, and he hopes to have the bulk of the money raised to take with him. Money that comes in while he’s gone can be wired to him. He plans to set up a network of clergy while he’s there to whom he can send additional donations once he’s home.
Meantime, hearing and reading about the devastation can be hard, even for those nowhere near it.
“The round of violent storms across much of the country this week, especially the horrific tornado in Oklahoma Monday, reminds us severe weather season is back and for many families that means a renewed season of stress,” according to a news alert from the Mayo Clinic.
Parents even here in Utah may notice their children are more anxious when the wind blows and may have trouble concentrating or sleeping.
Mayo Clinic child psychologist Dr. Stephen Whiteside recommends being calm and supportive to children and explaining to them that storms are part of nature. He also suggests gradually exposing worried kids to bad weather situations so they can learn to cope and to continue reading and learning about storms.