Since 1994, Convoy of Hope has been there to offer help and hope for those in need following catastrophic natural disasters. Convoy of Hope's immediate response following the devastating storms last weekend in the Midwest is certainly no exception.
Last Friday's storms killed at least 88 people across five states. Tornadoes devastated parts of Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Tennessee, and Convoy of Hope's volunteers and trucks loaded with supplies brought a great deal of relief in the aftermath.
Here is a day-by-day account of what Convoy Hope has done in the past week, and here's how you can help:
Tuesday, December 11, 8:42 a.m.
Convoy of Hope is responding to the tornadic outbreak that occurred last night across the South and Midwest. Tornadoes were reported in Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Early reports show the tornado that tracked through the latter four states may have been on the ground for more than 100 miles.
The storm that struck Illinois hit an Amazon warehouse; fatalities have been reported but no exact number has been shared. Two deaths have been reported in Arkansas. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency and shared in a news conference that 50 to 100 people likely died in the storm, most of whom were working at the same factory when the storm hit.
As of this morning, more than a quarter of a million people are without power across the five states.
Convoy of Hope is responding with relief supplies, including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies and other necessities.
December 11, 4:15 p.m.
After last night's devastating storms, Convoy of Hope has relief supplies en route to the disaster zone.
"This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state's history," Kentucky Governor Andrew Beshear told reporters on Saturday morning.
Officials have already confirmed at least 28 dead across Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas after the tornadic outbreak that occurred last night in the South and Midwest. Other reports indicated that debris from the storm may have blown more than 120 miles.
Missouri resident Mark Borgmann lost his mother in the storm. His 84-year-old father, Vernon, woke up in a field, surrounded by debris after a tornado struck their home. Vernon sustained minor injuries but is in stable condition.
"It's a mess," Mark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The National Weather Service took to social media on Friday and urged those in the storm's path to prepare to take shelter. The Weather Channel reported more than 500,000 power outages as of Saturday afternoon.
Convoy of Hope has tractor-trailers full of relief supplies — including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies and other necessities — en route to the disaster zone.
Recovery continues along the more than 200-mile path of destruction caused by tornadoes originating in Arkansas and ending midway through Kentucky on Friday night. While the exact number of tornadoes spawned, the time they were on the ground and their intensity are still being evaluated, the tragic aftermath of the storm is becoming more clear.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll is likely between 70 and 100 people in his state. There were another six confirmed fatalities at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois and eight others were killed across Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. The financial cost of the damage is also expected to be very high.
"Because the destruction is so widespread, Convoy of Hope is working tirelessly to get much-needed resources to multiple locations to help those who need them most," said Stacy Lamb, Senior Director of Convoy of Hope's U.S. Disaster Services team.
Convoy of Hope quickly made contact with several churches in the affected areas and sent multiple loads of relief supplies from the World Distribution Center to assist residents as they start to recover. Convoy will continue working with state and local governments, community leaders and volunteers in identifying the best way to help moving forward.
"I don't think we have seen damage at this scale, ever," Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in a press conference Sunday.
This weekend, a devastating storm struck the Midwest and the South. Experts believe that one single storm formed tornadoes in Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Convoy of Hope was quick to respond.
The news coming out of communities hit by Friday's tornado outbreak is heart-wrenching. Officials have confirmed 64 deaths in Kentucky, with another 105 people remaining unaccounted for. An additional 13 people have died in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, bringing the overall death toll to 77.
More than 1,000 homes were destroyed in Kentucky alone. Tens of thousands are without power, which means no heat during freezing winter nights.
The National Weather Service described one of Friday night's tornadoes as "a historic long-track tornado." Early estimates indicate that the tornado generated wind speeds in excess of 200 mph as it relentlessly tore across four states, leaving a trail of splintered homes and rubble approximately three quarters of a mile wide. Most tornadoes are on the ground for minutes at a time; that particular tornado was active for more than two hours.
Convoy of Hope quickly made contact with several churches in the affected area and sent multiple loads of relief supplies — including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies and other necessities — to the disaster zone from the World Distribution Center.
Convoy will continue working with state and local governments, community leaders and volunteers to identify the best way to help moving forward.
As Convoy of Hope's response to the recent outbreak of tornadoes continues, the scope of the damage has become even more apparent.
Friday's storms killed at least 88 people across five states. That number may continue to rise as search and rescue teams scour the disaster zone. Meanwhile, 27,000 residents of Kentucky are without running water or are under boil advisories, according to the state's Emergency Management Director, Michael Dossett.
In an interview with CNN, Dossett referred to Friday as "one of the darkest days in the state's history."
Local crews are working to restore power after the storm left more than 250,000 individuals without electricity. Pressure continues to mount in hard-hit areas like Mayfield, Kentucky, where the forecast calls for below-freezing temperatures before the end of the week.
In a hopeful turn of events, preparedness saved lives at a Kentucky nursing home where 74 residents participated in a tornado drill just hours before the storm struck. They quickly put their plan into practice as a tornado approached that evening. Despite a direct hit, all residents survived.
Still, many in affected areas remain without shelter or basic necessities. Convoy's response has already brought approximately 130,000 pounds of food, water, relief supplies, sheltering supplies and cleanup supplies to more than 7,000 individuals in need of relief. Because of the fast-approaching winter weather, Convoy of Hope has also begun to distribute winter clothes and coats in addition to other supplies.
"Our goal for this response is to help as many communities as we can, as quickly as we can," said Alysan Burgbacher of Convoy of Hope's Disaster Services team.
Convoy will continue to provide relief as storm survivors begin to rebuild.
President Biden flew to Kentucky to survey the damage caused by last weekend's devastating storm. The president viewed the disaster zone from a helicopter. As he flew over Mayfield, Kentucky, Convoy of Hope was on the ground distributing relief supplies to those in need.
"Thank you. You're doing God's work," President Joe Biden told Convoy of Hope during a visit to Kentucky early in the day.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Federal Disaster Agency Head Deanne Criswell and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also joined the president.
Convoy of Hope has sent nine tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies to multiple affected communities in response to last week's historic storms. Convoy's response will continue as survivors rebuild and recover. To support Convoy of Hope's work, click here.
Please visit Convoy of Hope's website at convoyofhope.org.
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