The nation was shaken this week by images of terrible destruction caused by tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma — and one country star in particular is feeling his home state's pain.
Toby Keith, who grew up in Moore and whose name is on the Moore water tower, says that although the damage is terrible, he has faith that his home town will be able to rebuild itself.
"This storm has devastated the community that I grew up in. I rode my bike through those neighborhoods," he observed in a statement issued on Monday. "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 talked about the disaster Monday night with Anderson Cooper. He observed that the area had been hit by tornadoes countless times; but that this particular time was, of course, extraordinary in its intensity. He lamented the fact that the twister squarely hit an elementary school, and related that his own sister's house was hit.
However, he also praised his state's preparedness for such events. "Oklahoma's really good, we have great meteorologists, great weather centers...the [fatalities] could be much, much higher," he noted.
Still: "It's just devastating to see this count, because it's usually not this high."
Another country celeb from Oklahoma who publicly expressed his pain over the devastation was Blake Shelton, who addressed the disaster during Monday night's episode of "The Voice," offering prayers and thoughts to his home state. Also commenting on the tornadoes were "Voice" contestants the Swon Brothers, who are from Muskogee, Okla., but told host Carson Daly that their families are okay.
The death toll in Moore as a result of the tornadoes currently stands at 24, including 9 children.