The Chabad Community Center of Southern Oklahoma has opened its building as a shelter and is collecting supplies for families and the elderly displaced by the devastating tornado that sped through parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs Monday afternoon, leaving 24 dead, nine of them children, and many more injured.

“While we feel the pain of others, we’re very thankful that we’re able to respond–to use all our energy and all our resources to let the community know we’re here to help,” said co-director Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, as rescue efforts were ongoing late into the night.

Messages have come pouring in on Facebook and via email from concerned friends and supporters, Goldman said. Meanwhile, they’ve been reaching out into the community to make sure everyone is accounted for and to determine the community’s ongoing needs.

While Chabad’s three rabbinic interns took to the phones, Goldman got in touch with local law enforcement, and within hours, supplies were coming in. The Chabad rabbi said he will offer counseling at any time, and started getting ready to distribute relief as necessary.

Goldman was sending emails and alerting people via Facebook throughout the night as to how Chabad is able to help.

“The response and the concern have been overwhelming,” said Goldman, adding that they’re receiving calls from individuals and organizations in New York, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, California and abroad with kind words and offers to help with relief efforts. “The community that was hit is facing some short-term real needs, and they’re going to be facing longer-term needs as well,” he said.

In the aftermath of the massive 1999 tornado, Chabad focused on displaced children, sending them comforting gifts and offering counseling. Having learned from that, he said, Chabad hopes to offer broader resources.

He said in addition to monetary resources, the community would benefit immensely from prayer–for those who were lost, those injured, those who lost property and the first responders who pushed past downed power lines, through gas leaks and debris to go head first onto the scene.

“It’s a time to act; it’s a time to do something,” Goldman said. “We’re here ready to help make sure the help people offer can have the greatest impact possible."