By Catholic News Service
OKLAHOMA CITY (CNS) — Even after the initial death toll was cut by more than half, the human and material devastation of a string of tornadoes that buffeted areas of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City May 19-20 was incalculable.
“Our first concern is for the victims who have lost their lives or loved ones and suffered injury or loss of property,” said a May 21 statement by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.
“We are moved by the efforts of the first responders who have put their own lives on hold to help in this time of need. We owe them a debt of gratitude and assure them of our prayers,” Archbishop Coakley said.
St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb that bore the brunt of the EF-5 tornado that hit mid-afternoon May 20, was spared, although it had lost its telephone service in the wake of the twister. Archbishop Coakley told Catholic News Service in a May 21 telephone interview he was planning to visit the site at the conclusion of the interview, adding the church had also lost power and water.
Ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., Archbishop Coakley said he had been in Wichita attending to matters dealing with the estate of his recently deceased father when he got word of the first round of storms.
“I immediately returned, soon after the storms had gone through. But it was impossible to get into Moore. I-35 has been closed down,” Archbishop Coakley told CNS. “It was just utter chaos there. There was a lot of debris in the roads and utter gridlock.” He added the Our Lady of Guadalupe Youth Camp had suffered “some pretty severe structural damage” in the initial round of tornadoes May 19. Continue Reading »