Operation Blessing helps Oklahoma victims


by Carl Leimer, 13News


Posted on May 21, 2013 at 6:29 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 11:52 AM

NORFOLK - Operation Blessing is sending disaster relief to victims of Oklahoma's devastating tornado.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma medical examiner's office revised the death toll to 24 people, including seven children, down from initial information from authorities that said at least 51 people were killed, including at least 20 children. More than 120 people were being treated at hospitals, including about 50 children.

A team was already on the ground in Texas helping victims of other tornadoes. Late Monday, an advance team led by Jody Herrington-Gettys, director of U.S. disaster relief for Operation Blessing International, deployed from Granbury, where they had been helping coordinate tornado relief efforts following last week’s storm.

Tuesday morning, Bill Horan, president of Va. Beach-based Operation Blessing, boarded a plane to join the team to do whatever is needed

"Operation Blessing is really good at managing volunteers," Horan said. "We can coordinate them and focus their unfocused energy."

A caravan of OBI emergency equipment is currently en route to Moore, including a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks full of tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen. The caravan is expected to arrive by noon local time.

If you want to help out, cash is the best donation you can make. Horan says they can easily use it wherever the need is greatest.

You can make a donation on the Operation Blessing Website and follow the team's progress on its Facebook page.

President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. 

The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most-powerful type of twister, and it was at least a half-mile wide.

Associated Press contributed to this report.