Tornados are unpredictable, quick and relentless.

The images from the catastrophic events that happened Monday in Oklahoma are heartbreaking and quite frightening. Children are being pulled from the rubble of their elementary school, homes are flattened and other buildings are in flames.

The death count is hard to keep up with – rising and falling as emergency crews work to clean up the mess that was left behind by an EF-5 tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City and the adjacent town of Moore. Some among the dead are children, making the situation even more heartbreaking.

When watching the news and seeing all of those horrible images, it feels like a hopeless situation. Lives are lost, and homes that were built over many years have been swept away.

But there is hope. Oklahoma and these towns will rise from this. Tornados often tear through that state. According to the Associated Press, four tornados have hit Moore since 1998, and one struck the region in 1999 with 300 mph winds, killing 36 people.

With that in mind, the people of Oklahoma are prepared for these disasters and how to respond. If it wasn't for that, the death toll could have been a lot higher.

Emergency crews are diligently working to find survivors and make sure those without homes have shelter. Stories of survival and heroes will emerge in the coming days as the dust settles and people start rebuilding their lives.

And those are the stories that make hope prevail.

As always, people around the country want to help, too. When tragedy strikes, America citizens tend to pull together and do what they can to assist those in need. Some donate money or blood, while others leave the comforts of home to go to the scene of the disaster to help a community rebuild.

Yesterday, today and for many weeks to come, we mourn with the families affected by this tragedy in Oklahoma, and we know residents of our community stand with us, experiencing the feeling of sadness and helplessness. But we can help, even from Aiken County, and here's how.

Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross Disaster relief, visit or call 1-800-Red-Cross. Salvation Army is also responding to the disaster and $10 donations can be made by texting STORM at 80888, visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Although this disaster took place thousands of miles away, we can band together through donations and prayers to do what we can to ease the pain of those suffering following this tragic event.