Okla. celebs react to tornado devastation
Toby Keith, Reba McEntire among celebrities showing their support for Sooner State
Reba McEntire has physically been in Cape Town, South Africa, but her heart has been with those suffering in her home state of Oklahoma.
On Monday night, "we were watching CNN's coverage of the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas," McEntire said in a statement. "My heart, my prayers and my thoughts are going out strong to my fellow Okies who are hurting today. Because when one Okie hurts, we all hurt."
Part of the storm hit close to home for McEntire, who learned after "many texts, emails and phone calls" that her family is OK.
"My niece, Garett Smith, told me that the first run of tornadoes were three miles away from her home near Castle, OK and they could hear them from their storm cellar," the country star continued in a statement. "So many have lost their lives in this tornado. That so many children have been taken, all we can do is comfort their families and friends and pray to God for a speedy healing for everyone. Okies are strong people. God stay with them."
The band Hanson also hails from the state, and Taylor Hanson told CNN at "The Hangover III" premiere in Westwood, California on Monday that they're ready to help.
"In general, as dads [and] as Oklahomans, we're grateful to those who have jumped in [to help]," Taylor said. "Our hearts go out to the ones who have lost family members, and we're ready to jump in and do what we can. Hopefully also lots of people will be giving and donating their time - all you can do is pray for the families."
Taylor's brother and bandmate Zac noted that Oklahomans aren't strangers to tornadoes and know how to prepare for extreme weather, "but at this level, you know, it was the strongest force of nature period," Zac said. "Wind speeds of almost 300 miles per hour. No matter how much you prepare you still can't prepare for that. It's just tragic and terrible."
"Okies are good folks," added Isaac. "They will find a way to get through it."
Those who are recovering from the twister, which killed 24 on Monday, have the support of several celebrities, but particularly from other natives like actress Alfre Woodard and country singers Vince Gill and Toby Keith.
"My heart is broken seeing and hearing the stories out of Oklahoma," Woodard said. "But, I know firsthand the resilience of the people. They are a community based culture and will reach their hands out to their neighbors. I trust all Americans will catch that spirit and reach out to Oklahoma now."
Gill echoed what the Hanson brothers were saying, pointing out that "throughout the history of Oklahoma, there have been more than enough catastrophes to challenge the grit and backbone of the people of Oklahoma. This tragedy will be another opportunity to see first-hand the character of our people. Whether it's a Dust Bowl, a depression, a horrific storm or a bombing, we always endure. To those who have lost family, friends, homes, businesses and, saddest of all, schools, our hearts are with you, and we all stand beside you."
For Keith, the storm has ravaged the place where he grew up. "I rode my bike through those neighborhoods. I have family and friends in Moore," he said in a statement. "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."
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