The news is so heart-wrenching right now! It's another week of devastating storms across America – another week of deadly tornados! Another week for those of us seniors or younger in the baby boomer generation – caring for elderly parents who live a long way away or with long-distance grandchildren – to monitor the news stations carefully, make calls, send emails, and do a LOT of praying!
Nursing homes in the area were certainly not immune. One facility, Greenbriar Nursing home, reported that 10 elderly senior patients and a staff member were killed when the facility was demolished by the twister. According to an article from McKnight's Long-Term Care News and Assisted Living – Greenbriar, which is one of "six skilled nursing facilities citywide, was directly in the tornado's path. A Los Angeles Times report describes a horrific scene at Greenbriar, where 10 nursing home staffers tried to protect 85 residents in the building's central hallway."
In the midst of all the dire news, and more storms predicted, are also some sweet and encouraging stories of people working together to help each other. As I continued to read the article from McKnight's Long-Term Care News and Assisted Living, I was touched by their description of the help being provided to the damaged facilities by one facility that was NOT impacted directly, Spring River Christian Village, although even it was not immune as staff members there did lose homes.
….Spring Village executive director Rick Keller told McKnight's that because the facility was not directly affected by the storm, it's been aiding Joplin's other nursing homes. Assistance includes taking in residents, and helping one facility with laundry services. The Red Cross has also brought in other Joplin-area senior citizens who were left homeless because of the storm.
I was also blessed to find that many of my favorite Christian missionary organizations, including Samaritan's Purse, are joining in to work with many other relief agencies – local and national – to help in this situation.
Samaritan's Purse writes:
We will be based at the Joplin campus of Forest Park Baptist Church. We are asking for volunteers to help with this response, and expect to begin working in storm-damaged neighborhoods by Wednesday. We will help storm victims salvage valuable possessions, remove fallen trees and debris, and make emergency repairs on storm-damaged homes.
They also remind us this isn't the only deadly tornado news this year:
Samaritan’s Purse has responded to two other major storms within the past month. We sent three Disaster Relief Units when a series of violent tornadoes ripped across the heart of North Carolina in April. Two units were dispatched to Alabama when devastating twister hit Alabama in late April. We are continuing to work in the Tuscaloosa area.
I love this quote about a grandma impacted by a tornado in Alabama:
While talking to one of her grandchildren about the storm, Thomas explained why she continues to keep her faith in God through hard times.
“When Satan gets busy, God raises up His standard in His people,” she said. “And I have seen that standard. I have seen Christian people—people we don't even know—coming in and helping my friends and neighbors out there.”
Some of the people who were there to help were Samaritan's Purse volunteers. More than 7,000 volunteers have worked with our disaster relief teams in the hard-hit areas around Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, helping hundreds of storm victims by combing through debris to recover valuable belongings, cutting up and removing downed trees, and making emergency repairs to damaged roofs.
Here's a video featuring fellow baby boomer, Franklin Graham, discussing the situation:
As their site reminds us, we need to:
- For God to comfort the people affected by the storms.
- That God would direct all the staff and volunteers as they respond.
GIVE – time and/or resources:
Whether this news hits home personally for the seniors and grandkids in our families, or whether we we were spared this time, it's so vital we spend time praying for all the people who were hurt in this series of storms, as well as be praying for protection from upcoming storms of all kinds. And as another fellow grandma said, after experiencing one of these horrific tornadoes, we need to keep our eyes fixed on GOD!