Toby Keith says his hometown of Moore, Okla. will bounce back after a massive tornado ravaged the Oklahoma City suburb, killing at least 24 people, including children. (Earlier reports of as many as 91 deaths were erroneous.)
The country star issued a statement on Monday as rescue workers struggled to pull survivors from the rubble.
“This storm has devastated the community that I grew up in. I rode my bike through those neighborhoods. I have family and friends in Moore. My heart and prayers go to those that have lost so much. But Moore is strong and we will persevere. God be with you all.”
Keith was born in Clinton, Okla., on the western side of the state, but grew up in Moore, a town of 55,000 residents just south of Oklahoma City. Moore is also the hometown of country singer Kellie Coffey, who won top new female honors at the 2002 Academy of Country Music Awards.
A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner said the death toll was likely to climb. More than 140 people are reported to be injured, including dozens of children from two elementary schools that were flattened or heavily damaged by the twister.
President Obama issued a federal disaster declaration late Monday.
During a live episode of “The Voice,” Oklahoma native son Blake Shelton admitted it was a tough night. “They’re going through hell there, right now,” Shelton said when asked about the devastation. “When we went live here, [I] finally had to set my phone down. The bad news keeps coming in. A lot of fatalities. Lot of children and it makes it hard to actually sit here and do this tonight.”
He reported that all of his family is okay, while NBC repeatedly told reviewers about ways to help throughout the broadcast, including contact information for the Red Cross.
Checotah, Okla. native Carrie Underwood issued a statement on Monday, saying that growing up in tornado valley, you always knew a disaster could happen.
“It doesn’t change how devastating it is when something does happen,” she tweeted.” I’m thinking about and praying for my beautiful home state and the people in it tonight.”
Oklahoma City rocker Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, who are on tour in the U.K., left a comment on Twitter.
Just now gettin to Wi-fi…. Mother Nature…..so beautiful ….so horrible…peace on earth.. instagram.com/p/ZkpVoIxwlG/
— Wayne Coyne (@waynecoyne) May 21, 2013
Rock band Hanson, who hail from Tulsa, expressed grief as parents when asked about the tragedy on the “Hangover III” red carpet.”As dads the first thought is heartbreak and just desire to help and do whatever we can to help where you can,” Taylor Hanson told a Reuters reporter. “Call in to the Red Cross. As Oklahomans we’re really proud of the people who have jumped in to help.”
This is a developing story.