Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Begins Three New Deployments in Historic Tornado Season
Chaplains Ministering in Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia
As the deadliest tornado season in a decade continues to bring death and tragedy across the United States, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has deployed to three additional locations. These deployments are in response to the tornadoes over the weekend from Oklahoma to Georgia. In Oklahoma, the Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains are initially basing their ministry out of Picher, a small town of 800 in the northeastern part of the state which, according to the Associated Press, was home to six of the 22 people who died during the Mother’s Day weekend storms. The team that is currently based in Picher, is also moving 25 miles away into Joplin, Missouri. News reports indicate that 14 people in southwestern Missouri were killed by the tornadoes that tore through the area. In Georgia, the chaplains will be working alongside Franklin Graham’s disaster relief organization Samaritan’s Purse in Bibb County, where an estimated 2,000 homes were damaged. “We tend to feel so safe at home, like tragedies will never touch us,” says Jack Munday, director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “But this year has shown us again that death and destruction can literally drop out of the sky.” He continues, “That newfound feeling of vulnerability adds exponentially to the pain the victim is already suffering after the initial tragedy. That’s why it’s so important to respond immediately with love, hope and comfort in the midst of the physical and emotional storm.” Of the Rapid Response Team’s 12 deployments this year, eight have been the result of tornadoes. Tornado response deployments just concluded on Sunday, May 11, in Suffolk, Virginia and Greers Ferry, Arkansas. A deployment at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee is ongoing, resulting in four current simultaneous outreaches. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed following the attacks of September 11, 2001. It has since grown into a nationwide network of more than 2,600 chaplains and ministry volunteers who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. For more information on the Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rapidresponse.