A series of tornadoes ripped through states in the South and Midwest over the weekend, leveling hundreds of homes and businesses and leaving tens of thousands without power or running water. Preliminary estimates from the National Weather Service’s Paducah office suggest winds in some areas surpassed 200 mph. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Tuesday that more than 70 people had been killed in that state alone, with more than 100 others still unaccounted for and more than 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed.
Here’s a list of government agencies, nonprofit organizations and other groups that are accepting donations, organizing volunteers and offering supplies and support to victims and their families as clean-up and rebuilding operations begin:
How You Can Help
- Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund: A fund set up by Gov. Beshear to assist victims and help with rebuilding. Donate through the Team Kentucky portal or write a check to Kentucky State Treasurer and mail it to the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, 200 Mero Street, 5th Floor, Frankfort, KY 40622. Add “Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund” to the memo line.
- American Red Cross: The Red Cross has opened shelters, sent blood to local hospitals and is helping with local damage assessments. Send a donation or schedule an appointment to give blood or platelets at redcross.org, through the Red Cross Blood Donor app, by calling 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767) or by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. Or fill out a donation form, write a check with “Southern and Midwest Tornadoes” in the memo line and mail it to your local Red Cross chapter.
- Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund: Students at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine set up a GoFundMe page that by Monday afternoon had already raised more than $90,000. Donations will help local organizations that are giving financial aid, supplies and support to those impacted by the storms.
- Feeding America: The network of more than 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs is sending food, water and emergency supplies to those affected by the tornadoes. Donate through the Feeding America website with a credit card or PayPal account. Through Dec. 17, locals can also donate personal hygiene items for victims at the Feeding America Volunteer Center at 300 Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- Mayfield Community Foundation: The philanthropic organization based in Mayfield — among the towns hardest hit by the tornadoes — is soliciting donations through a GoFundMe page that had already raised more than $150,000 by Monday afternoon. Or mail a check to First Kentucky Bank, c/o Mayfield Community Foundation, 223 South 6th St., Mayfield KY, 42066.
- The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is seeking volunteers. Fill out the division's online form and list any skills that would be useful to ongoing recovery efforts.
- Kentucky State Parks are looking for people to help them take in displaced individuals and families. Those interested in helping should contact Kentucky State Parks Division Director Andy Kasitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kentucky's American Red Cross office is seeking volunteers to help serve meals, manage blood drives and help those displaced by the tornadoes. Visit the Kentucky Red Cross website for more information about how to help and what sorts of volunteers are needed.
How You Can Get Help
- Residents of Caldwell, Fulton, Graves, Hopkins, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Taylor and Warren counties can apply for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Residents and business owners impacted by the storms can apply online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residents who are deaf or hard-of-hearing should call 800-462-7585.
- FEMA's Kentucky tornado information page explains how to apply for aid and tips for cleaning, rebuilding and post-storm safety.
Food and Shelter
- Find a local food bank through the Feeding America network of food pantries and meal programs.
- Residents in need of emergency housing should contact their local emergency management office.
- Kentucky state parks are offering emergency shelters to people displaced by the tornadoes.
- If you’re uninsured — or if your insurance doesn’t cover damage related to the hurricane — apply for disaster assistance through FEMA.
- If you have homeowners or renters insurance, FEMA recommends taking photos or videos of damage and filing a claim with your provider ASAP.
Scams and Fraud
- Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is encouraging Kentuckians to report suspected consumer price gouging by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257 or submitting an online price gouging complaint form.
- Report suspected disaster-related scams to FEMA's Fraud Investigations and Inspections Division by emailing StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov.
- Learn more about how to spot a scam from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.