Aid Quickly Follows Disaster

Rescue workers and national aid organizations quickly began organizing to help Oklahoma and Kansas after a series of deadly tornadoes tore through the states, killing dozens, injuring hundreds, and leveling buildings in their wake.

Hardest hit were Oklahoma City and the Wichita, Kansas area where entire neighborhoods were completely destroyed.

At least 45 people were killed after a series of lethal tornadoes swept through an area of Oklahoma known as "Tornado Alley." Capt. Charles Allen said hospitals in the metro area had treated 563 people for tornado-related injuries.

Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating has declared a state of emergency, calling out the National Guard, Salvation Army, Red Cross, law enforcement officials and volunteers. Keating, who called the tornado damage "unprecedented," toured the affected areas Tuesday.

President Clinton declared several counties in both Oklahoma and Kansas as disaster areas making them eligible for federal funding.

One hundred National Guard troops began arriving at the disaster scenes late Monday and conducted search and rescue missions, working 12-hour shifts.

Officials in Oklahoma have taken the names of those missing from their relatives, and have set up a hot line for those seeking loved ones.

The American Red Cross said they can be reached for contributions at: 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669).

Meanwhile, with approximately 2,000 homes destroyed, thousands of residents have become homeless in Oklahoma. Shelters have been set up in local schools, churches, and even a nearby army base. By late Tuesday morning, the Red Cross had set up 10 shelters for some 1,600 people.

Spokesman Clayton Taylor says hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are helping residents recover from the disaster and a mobile evacuation center has been set up in Oklahoma City.

In and around Oklahoma City, the survivors are already starting a ritual familiar to this part of the country: assessing the wreckage of their lives, thankful it wasn't worse.