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How to help tornado victims throughout Kentucky

As rescuers continue to search for survivors, here are some ways to volunteer and donate to relief efforts. 
Image: Tornado damage in Bowling Green
Volunteers cleaning up the backyard of a damaged home on Dec 13, 2021 after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through Bowling Green, Kentucky.Amira Karaoud / Reuters
/ Source: TODAY

Over the weekend, deadly tornadoes tore through Kentucky and neighboring states in the Midwest and South, destroying towns and leaving dozens dead. 

As of Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported more than 100 people are still unaccounted for and that the numbers of the missing and deceased are expected to increase. 

In the city of Mayfield, at least eight people were confirmed dead  after the roof of a candle factory collapsed

“I’m really sorry,” Beshear said after the catastrophe. “You’re not supposed to lose people like this, and to not know and not have the information has got to make it that much harder.”

He added, “This is the deadliest tornado event we have ever had.” 

On Sunday, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Kentucky which will provide federal aid to those in at least eight counties following the devastation of the storms. 

In addition to support from the federal government, Beshear and local officials are also encouraging fellow Kentuckians and people across the country to lend their support. Here are some ways to help the relief efforts in Kentucky. 

Image: Devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through several U.S. states
Volunteers stack water at the Mayfield-Graves County Fairgrounds in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Dec. 14, 2021. Cheney Orr / Reuters

Places to donate blood

One major way locals can contribute is by donating blood which is desperately needed after natural disasters. 

Locals can find a donation center in their area by going to the American Red Cross Blood Center website and typing in their zip code. The American Red Cross is also accepting monetary donations to widespread Kentucky recovery efforts or specific counties in the state.  

Local organizations to support

Kentucky Sports Radio and the Kentucky Chamber Foundation also teamed up to establish the KSR Tornado Relief Fund where individuals and businesses can donate. As of Wednesday morning, the fund has already raised more than half of its $500,000 goal. 

Where to volunteer

Kentucky State Police said that those who wish to volunteer in person should call 270-331-1979. Kentucky Emergency Management is also asking companies and organizations that can donate services or products to call 502-697-6600. 

Volunteers near Bowling Green, Ky., can assist the local Bowling Green Fire Department. They should send the department a Facebook message with their name, contact information and the type of assistance they can provide. 

National organizations to support

National organizations such as CARE and Feeding America are stepping in to help out as well. CARE is collecting money to send food, water and cash to the tornado victims, while donations sent to Feeding America will help provide “ready-to-eat” bags of food that do not require cooking. 

Convoy of Hope, a faith-based non-profit based in Missouri, has also sent tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies to the impacted areas.

“We will keep putting one foot in front of another and push through this,” Beshear said at a news conference on Sunday. “We’re not going anywhere, we’re going to be with you today, we’re going to be with you tomorrow and we’re going to be with you to rebuild.”

Although Kentucky was hit the hardest, the series of storms ripped through several states including Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. As of Wednesday evening, nearly 90 people were reported dead in the storms.