Deadly Tornadoes Tore Across At Least Six States Friday Night: Here's How to Help
A rash of tornadoes broke out overnight causing mass devastation across several Southern states. The swath of storms covered at least 6 states and the tornado track spans upwards of 227 miles, 200 of which were in Kentucky, according to the state's governor. The death toll is already at 70 and climbing as of Saturday afternoon.
So many communities will need our help in the weeks to come. Some of the hardest hit areas include Kingston Springs, Tennessee, Mt Juliet, Tennessee, Monette, Arkansas, and Mayfield, Kentucky. The mayor of Mayfield, Kathy O'Nan, told CNN, "It is truly devastating and heartbreaking to look at our community… It looks like matchsticks. But she was also quick to point out that "we will see the very best of people in the months to come," referencing how her community has already begun to help one another. Our hearts and prayers are with all of those impacted from these terrible storms and as always, we too, turn towards the helpers. Southern Living has a list of vetted organizations that have already mobilized to bring assistance to the hardest hit areas. If you are looking for ways to lift up our neighbors in need, see below.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is always one of the first organizations on the ground in natural disasters. They provide shelter, food, and critical relief supplies. But they also provide blood to hospitals for those who need it. As Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear said in his press conference Saturday afternoon, one of the major ways we can help is to give blood. Due to the ongoing pandemic, blood supply is already critically low. For those who are able to donate, this is a way to provide immediate care to others.
Donate to their efforts and find more information about blood drives here.
The Lee Initiative
Kentucky Chef Edward Lee, Lindsey Ofcacek, and their team at LEE Initiative have already pledged $15,000 to tornado relief efforts in Western Kentucky. They are working with area food trucks to provide water and meals and they are supporting Giving Kitchen, which offers relief to people in the restaurant industry whose incomes have been affected by this tragedy.
Our friends Gary and Ann LeBlanc and their army of Mercy Chefs always answer the call to help by feeding body and soul. They were already in Waverly, Tennessee, the site of devastating flooding earlier this year, to provide a holiday meal for that community as they are still in such need when news broke of this latest disaster. After serving a holiday meal from the heart to those in Waverly Saturday afternoon, they packed up their equipment and headed to hard hit Mayfield, Kentucky. They were able to serve their first hot meal Saturday evening.
Operation BBQ Relief
Stan Hays and his crew of do-gooder BBQ pit masters have also deployed to Mayfield, Kentucky to provide hot BBQ meals that they hope, as stated on their Instagram account bring, "hope, comfort, and friendship to communities decimated by the tornado."
The Salvation Army has mobilized teams in Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee to help those impacted by these storms. Their work includes providing food, drinks, shelter, emotional and spiritual care and other emergency services to survivors and first responders.
Samaritan's Purse will be deploying to Kentucky and Arkansas. They will be sending Disaster Response Units—tractor trailers loaded with equipment and supplies—along with staff members to locations in both states. They will be assessing additional areas as needed. Along with making monetary donations, you can volunteer to help if you are able.
For more information on how to volunteer or donate, check here.
This remarkable group of veterans continue to serve their country by answering the call of duty in many natural disasters. They send teams to help communities clear through debris and rebuild after disaster hits. As of Saturday afternoon, they have already deployed teams to Benton and Mayfield, Kentucky.
Donate to their work here.
Team Western Kentucky Relief Fund
In Saturday afternoon's press conference, Governor Andy Beshear said that this was the, "most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky's history." He spoke of the immediate ways to help which include for those in the hardest hit areas to stay off the roads so the first responders can do their work, he asked for those capable to give blood, and he announced that one central fund had been established to help on the ground efforts and the relief that will be needed for a long time to come.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation
This New York City-based profit founded in the aftermath of 9/11 is providing food, mortgage payments, and toys for the holidays to families who have been affected by the deadly tornadoes.
Western Kentucky Toy Drive
On Tuesday, Kentucky's First Lady, Britainy Beshear launched a toy drive to help bring a little holiday joy into the lives of children who've just gone through the unthinkable. "For many of us, the holidays are a time for being at home surrounded by family and friends. But this year, many in Western Kentucky have suffered a tragedy. They've lost everything, including their homes and maybe even someone they love. With your help, we can make this season a little easier for those who are hurting by donating a toy, book or gift card to bring them some hope and joy during the holidays," she said in a press release. Beshear is asking for all donated items be new, unwrapped, and in original packaging. Eligible gifts for ages infant to teen include toys, books, electronics, and $25 VISA or Mastercard gift cards. Clothing is not needed at this time.
You can find more information on ways to donate here.
World Central Kitchen
Chef Jose Andres and his team from World Central Kitchen have deployed their teams and food trucks to help feed those in need following these terrible storms. Saturday, they handed out meals to those in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have now also deployed teams in Mayfield, Princeton, and another in Arkansas.
This is a developing story and we will update as more organizations begin to help.