Two Jewish brothers are still reported missing along with numerous others in the wake of the second-worst tornado in U.S. history, classified as an F-5.
The twister ripped across the town of Joplin, Missouri Sunday evening was one of several spawned in a system of severe Midwestern thunderstorms over the weekend.
Below is a video of the tornado entering the southwest side of the town.
Video from TornadoVideos.net. Filmed by Basehunters team Colt Forney, Isaac Pato, Kevin Rolfs and Scott Peake. The team joined others in search and rescue efforts and transporting victims to local hospitals in personal vehicles.
At least 116 people were confirmed dead, dozens more were missing and dozens of others were injured as a result of the tornado. Another bad storm system was predicted, forecasters said.
Rabbi Yehuda Weg, the Tulsa-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Oklahoma, stocked a car with food and clothing and headed straight for “ground zero,” arriving late Monday night.
Weg, who travels twice a month to Joplin to supervise kosher food production and meet with local Jews, told Chabad.org, “This is absolutely horrific. This tornado was six miles long and almost a mile wide, and went through the center of town.”
The two missing brothers, he said, are both active in the small Jewish community. One lives across the street from Joplin High School, which Weg said the tornado reduced to “a pile of bricks.”
Volunteers from the American Red Cross and several local disaster agencies were also headed to the area. Mayor Mike Woolston declared the town a disaster area, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon sent members of the National Guard as well.
Israeli expatriate Omer Mani “lost everything” but discovered among the rubble that his Jewish prayer boxes, known as phylacteries or tefillin, his Hebrew prayer book and a bound copy of the Five Books of Moses (the Bible) were completely intact.
One quarter of the city is standing, but without electricity. One quarter of the city is standing and still has electricity, Mani said.
“Everything else is gone.”