On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, an EF5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas with peak winds estimated at 210 miles per hour, killing 25 people and injuring 377 others. The tornado was part of a larger weather system that had produced several other tornadoes over the previous two days. The tornado touched down west of Newcastle at 2:56 pm CDT, staying on the ground for 39 minutes over a 17-mile path, crossing through a heavily populated section of Moore. The tornado was 1.3 miles wide at its peak. Despite the tornado following a roughly similar track to the even deadlier 1999 Bridge Creek–Moore tornado, very few homes and neither of the stricken schools had purpose-built storm shelters.
Witnesses said the tornado more closely resembled “a giant black wall of destruction” than a typical twister. Among the hardest hit areas were two public schools: Briarwood Elementary School and Plaza Towers Elementary School. At the latter school, 75 children and staff were present when the tornado struck. Seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed Urban Search and Rescue teams to the tornado-hit areas. The Oklahoma National Guard was deployed. President Obama declared a major disaster in the state, ordering federal aid to the affected areas. And then the world began to help the area rebuild their lives.
In July 2013, a handful of youth from St. Andrews together with Pastor John and youth minister Nicky Clark travelled to Moore, Oklahoma to help the rebuild their lives. The work included organizing relief agency warehouses, cutting down and hauling branches downed by the storms, and canvassing neighborhoods to see what needs were remaining two months after the tornadoes.
The team stayed at the City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City and travelled by van to the worksites each day. All who went felt the hand of God as they served. While there, one girl heard God calling her to the mission field after high school. She moved to Costa Rica in January 2014, fully sponsored by the people of St. Andrews.