February 29, 2012—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in contact with United Methodist annual conference Disaster Response personnel in conferences affected by last night’s severe storms, to assess relief needs.
UMCOR executive for US Disaster Response, the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, reached out to Disaster Response coordinators in the Kansas East, Missouri, Illinois, and Illinois Great River annual conferences, where tornadoes were reported to have touched down and caused widespread damage.
“It is still too early to know the full extent of the damage,” Hazelwood said as he asked for prayers for the affected families and individuals.
Initial reports from the Kansas East Conference indicate that about 60 percent of tiny Harveyville, Kansas, population 250, was affected by the storm.
According to news reports, at least eight people were injured, three of them critically. An apartment complex and the parsonage of the local United Methodist church were among the damaged buildings.
In Harrisburg, Illinois, according to news accounts, 35 to 40 homes were destroyed by a presumed twister that raced through the town at 5:00 this morning, local time. At least 10 people from the town of just 9,000 are reported to have died.
Another person was killed when a mobile home park was struck by a twister outside of Buffalo, Missouri. An early report from the Missouri Annual Conference indicates there were at least five reported tornadoes and that three communities—Kimberling City, Arcola, and Lebanon—were affected.
Branson, Missouri, a popular tourist destination, also suffered severe tornado damage, and at least 30 people there were injured.
For updated reports and information about how you can help, please check UMCOR’s website (www.umcor.org ), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/UMCOR), and follow UMCOR Disaster Response executive Tom Hazelwood’s Twitter feed (@TomUMCOR).