A powerful tornado measuring as wide as two miles tore through the southern Oklahoma City suburbs and the town of Moore on Monday afternoon, leaving ruined communities, schools, and businesses in its wake.
NBC affiliate KFOR in Oklahoma City reported that two elementary schools--Briarwood Elementary in Oklahoma City and Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore--were heavily damaged.
The Oklahoma medical examiner's office confirmed 24 deaths, but the official toll is expected to rise as the day goes on. The death count was revised down Tuesday morning from 51 as was initially reported during the early phase of recovery.
The AP reported that a man with a megaphone stood near a Catholic church Monday evening and called out the names of surviving children. Parents waited nearby, hoping to hear their child's name.
More than 120 are reported injured.
"I've had a phone call with President Obama who offered his prayers to the state...and offered to speed up and get rid of red tape for federal resources," Governor Mary Fallin said in the early evening. "We have bought in rescue dogs... It'll be dark pretty soon and we want to do what we can to search."
But she said, "Communication is very very hard so we're asking the public to be patient. We're doing everything we can."
President Obama declared a major disaster in Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area. The president's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
It was almost two years ago to the day that an EF5 twister (Monday's Moore tornado was most likely an EF4 but could be an EF5) ravaged Joplin, Mo. Joplin's mayor, Melodee Colbert Kean, told NBC's Gabe Gutierrez that the city is sending a rescue team of 10 officers and three firefighters to Moore, Okla.
In a tweet, the mayor wrote "(we are) giving back in whatever way we can."
Rescue workers continue to pull debris from the wreckage of Moore. You can send help via the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Feed the Children organization. Here's how:
Text Red Cross to 90999 to send a $10 donation.
Donate online: donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok
Donate by phone: 800-725-2769
Or send a check to: The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157. Designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.
FEED THE CHILDREN
Donate online: www.feedthechildren.org/disaster
Donate by phone: 800-627-4556
LOCAL FOOD BANK
regionalfoodbank.org text food to 32333 or phone: 405-604-7111