- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In the wake of devastating tornadoes that touched down across the Midwest and particularly hard in Oklahoma, parents across the region are assembling to hear roll-call updates on their missing children at perhaps the most appropriate of settings — churches.

Dozens surrounded the muddy entrance to an Oklahoma City church on Tuesday as a bullhorn-wielding individual blasted forth the names of children who had survived the ordeal and made their way to the congregation, The Associated Press reported. At another place of worship, St. Andrews United Methodist Church, it was more of the same, AP reported: hugs and tears of joy for reunions; somber attitudes and tears of distress and anguish for those still missing or reported dead.

At least seven children are still missing in Moore, the site of the most devastating twister, which tore up the community of 41,000. But the good news is that that figure is a downward revision of earlier estimates that put the death toll as high as 91, with 20 killed children. The medical examiner’s office reported Tuesday that the death count regionwide is 24, including up to nine children. The confusion was due to double-reporting on the deceased, from a variety of sources, the medical examiner said in the AP report.

Gov. Mary Fallin said 237 were reported injured.

One doesn’t have to go far to get a sense of loss confronting tornado-ravaged families.

Tonya Sharp and Deanna Wallace sat side-by-side in the St. Andrews gymnasium, awaiting word on their teenage daughters, AP reported. A line of students filed in; Ms. Wallace quickly noticed her 16-year-old and jumped to hug her. Ms. Sharp, meanwhile, sat back down, holding hope that her 17-year-old — who has epilepsy — was still alive and able to take her medicine, AP reported.

“I don’t know where she’s at,” Ms. Sharp said in the AP report.

Meanwhile, weather predictions warn of more to come.

Search-and-rescue operations in Moore were being hampered somewhat by sporadic lighting and rain storms, as well as hail the size of golf balls, CBS reported. But the worst is heading across Oklahoma borders, on to Texas. Forecasters say the Dallas-Fort Worth area could see some strong storms, including tornadoes, and flash flooding is a serious risk in Arkansas and Louisiana.



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