Oklahoma City is in shambles following a series of tornadoes that plowed through the capital city and its environs around rush hour Tuesday evening.

Among those affected were Rabbi Ovadia and Nechama Goldman, directors of the Chabad-Lubavitch Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning. One hour after the passage of the line of severe thunderstorms, the rabbi texted his brother in Gainesville, Fla., that they were safe in a shelter at a local mall.

“For the first time ever in a mall basement tornado shelter with family,” Goldman wrote.

When Rabbi Berl Goldman, director of the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student & Community Center serving the University of Florida, tried to text back, the message bounced.

“I guess his cell line is down now,” said the brother.

A quarter of an hour later, Nechama Goldman texted that they were leaving the shelter and that their home was okay.

“Others not,” she wrote sadly.

According to the National Weather Service, which issued a slew of urgent tornado warnings just before 6 p.m. local time, the storms were headed northeast for Tulsa and Joplin, Mo., where the deadliest tornado in United States history struck just two days before.

“We’re aware that something happened, and everyone is keeping their eyes to the sky,” said Rabbi Yehuda Weg, the Tulsa-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Oklahoma, who arrived in Joplin early Tuesday to help with relief efforts. “I was just on the phone with my wife, and she was okay.”

The Associated Press reported that two people died in Oklahoma City and a CNN report indicated that countless motorists were injured when a twister crossed Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 41.

Through its Twitter feed, the city of Oklahoma City urged residents to follow news broadcasts and seek shelter.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management announced that a State of Emergency was in effect in 14 counties.

The strongest tornado ever recorded struck Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999.