IDABEL, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is sending several volunteers to Idabel after Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for Bryan, McCurtain, Choctaw and Le Flore counties following the destructive tornado that tore through Southeastern Oklahoma Friday night. 

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams are onsite to help in Idabel and elsewhere, with chainsaw teams and damage assessors as it’s affecting several families. More than 100 homes and businesses are damaged and there are over 3 thousand power outages. The storm also sadly claimed a life as well.

“We searched all the houses and there was only one fatality. So, a 90-year-old man was killed last night. So, our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma Governor.

Saturday, Governor Stitt was in Idabel expressing his devastation and announced his plan to declare a state of emergency for the affected counties. 

“So, we can rebuild these other homes. And so, we’re doing an executive order right now to declare emergency for these four counties. And we will get all the help we can right down here,” said Stitt.  

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister also made the following remarks regarding Friday night’s tornado in southeastern Oklahoma.  

“Our hearts go out to the communities of Idabel, Hugo, Valliant, Denison and surrounding towns following last night’s tornado. The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s crisis response team has provided resources to administrators of the impacted school districts. The agency stands ready to provide other supports as additional needs arise in this ordeal. Our prayers are with all the Oklahomans affected by this devastation and loss.” 

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma released this statement regarding the state of emergency. “Choctaw Nation’s priority is to ensure the people of McCurtain County are safe and provided with relief needed,” Batton said. “Therefore, I’ve declared a State of Emergency and am coordinating with the Emergency Management Department to provide swift assistance,” said Chief Gary Batton, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. 

There was damage at trinity church in Idabel as well, smashed by a tornado. 

A medical center there and a school were also hit hard. 

The state is sending generators and crews to help search and cleanup. 

“We just got through touring the damage. And what I saw was Oklahomans coming together. The storm went through last night, but they were already out, you know, helping each other. We were clearing limbs and debris,” said Stitt.  

That’s exactly what Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is doing.  

Dozens of volunteers are on the ground assisting families and cleanup to those affected.  

Their work will include feeding units, shower trailers, chainsaw teams, debris clean-up and more. 

“We now have several teams converging in Idabel and we’re going to set up at the First Baptist Church in Idabel. We’ll have chainsaw teams. We brought a feeding unit, mobile feeding unit there… We’re a part of the Salvation Army on the meal preparation and distribution through and around Idabel. And so, we’re just going to be there to help them with chainsaws and debris cleaning,” said Sam Porter, interim state director of Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief.  

Volunteers plan to be there until the work is finished.  

“But we will do, chainsawing and clearing debris, sorting through it, it might take maybe two to three weeks, even up to a month. It might be right before Christmas… We’ll be there as long as it takes to clean up the debris, get trees off of houses. You know, the houses are totally destroyed,” said Porter.  

Sam Porter is asking all Oklahoma Baptists to pray for those impacted by the tornadoes.  

If you’d like to help support Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief in Idabel, there’s information on how to donate online here.