Dec 13, 2021 - Science

How to help tornado victims in Kentucky and other states

Marty James (L), 59, and a neighbor stand in front of his house in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 12, 2021 after it was destroyed by a tornado.
Destruction after the tornado swept through Mayfield, Kentucky. Photo: Cyril Julien/AFP via Getty Images

More than 70 people have died, towns "are gone," and recovery efforts will likely "take years."

The big picture: The tornadoes and storms that ripped through western Kentucky and five other states Friday night into Saturday left a trail of destruction and grieving communities. As those areas sort through the devastation and begin to clean up and rebuild, here's a list of ways you can help.

Donate
  • Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund: Kentucky set up a relief fund to help those affected by tornadoes. As of Monday morning, more than $4 million has been raised, according Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), who said the fund's first expenditures will include up to $5,000 in funeral and burial expenses for families who lost loved ones.
  • Western KY Red Cross Disaster Relief: The Red Cross, which "shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters" and "supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood" has set up a fund to help those in need in western Kentucky.
  • United Way of Kentucky is collecting monetary donations "to support immediate needs and long-term recovery for impacted communities."
  • Western Kentucky Toy Drive: "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," Kentucky first lady Britainy Beshear said Monday. People can visit drop-off sites across the state or mail items to KY Venues.
  • CARE, an international humanitarian organization, is accepting donations to get affected Kentucky "families food, water, and emergency cash vouchers."
  • International Medical Corps says it's "working with local agencies and partners to provide such assistance as temporary shelters, generators, medical supplies and equipment, and hygiene items."
  • The Salvation Army is collecting monetary donations and goods, including food and clothing to help storm victims across affected areas.
  • Several local organizations in affected states, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Illinois are accepting monetary and other donations.
Give blood
  • The Red Cross is encouraging people to give blood. The organization said it has provided hundreds of blood products to hospitals in response to the tornadoes and will send additional supplies as needed. Find a blood drive near you.
  • Those in Kentucky can also check out kybloodcenter.org.
Volunteer
  • If you're in or willing to travel to Kentucky, Beshear said Monday that the state is looking for volunteers to help staff state park locations that are housing people who have lost their homes. Contact Kentucky State Parks for details.
  • If you want to volunteer with cleanup efforts in western Kentucky, you can fill out a Kentucky Division of Emergency Management survey or contact Kentucky State Police.
Other ways to help
  • Quad State Tornado Found Items Facebook group: If you live in or near areas hit by the storms and you've found photos or other items that may belong to affected families, list them in this Facebook group. One photo from a family in tornado-hit Dawson's Springs, Kentucky, was found nearly 130 miles away in New Albany, Indiana, per AP.

Be smart: Before donating to any organization you're not familiar with, check out their profiles and rankings on sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator.

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Editor's note: This screen has been updated with additional details on the death toll.

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