Voluntary Organizations are Helping Kentucky Recover from Devastating Tornadoes – Here’s How You Can Help Too

Voluntary Organizations
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On Sunday, a major disaster declaration was declared for Kentucky after tornadoes left a trail of destruction across the commonwealth.

Communities often need as much help as they can get while they try to recover and rebuild after a major disaster. Recovery is a whole community effort that includes everyone – from government agencies to community organizations and neighbors helping neighbors.

This is why FEMA works with voluntary, faith-based and private sector partners who are critical lifelines to communities and provide much-needed assistance.  These organizations are established experts who know where to send resources and services to help those in need.

Most importantly, we know voluntary and faith-based organizations are the first step in providing critical resources to disaster survivors, to make sure that anyone who needs food, shelter or clothing is receiving that support.

Many of these organizations are already on the ground in Kentucky. These are just some examples of the work they are doing to help survivors:

  • The Salvation Army is at shelters serving meals and providing emotional support to survivors.
  • Team Rubicon heavy equipment and sawyer teams are clearing fallen or hazardous trees and debris to restore access to roadways and homes. Teams are also tarping homes to prepare for possible incoming storms.
  • Information Technology Disaster Resource Center is providing IT support and equipment.
  • Samaritans Purse is working with local churches to respond.
  • Crisis Cleanup is organizing a cleanup.
  • In addition to bringing in volunteers and staff, the American Red Cross is working with Latino partners to help affected areas with large Latino populations. Spanish translators can help provide things such as mental health services.
  • ToolBank is providing muck and gut kits, as well as other needed tools.
  • Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster have one Volunteer Reception Center and one Donations Reception Center open.
  • Operation BBQ is providing mass feeding services in Mayfield.
women gathers blanket donations

Northside Baptist Church in Mayfield, KY helps gather supplies for those in need after the Dec. 11 tornadoes.

These efforts help enhance and supplement the work that FEMA and our federal partners are doing. Our teams are on the ground helping to address immediate needs and assess new ones. We have also deployed supplies, including over 60 generators, 74,000 meals, 135,000 liters of water, thousands of cots and blankets, infant toddler kits and pandemic shelter kits.

All these efforts take coordination and communication across our federal, tribal, voluntary, faith-based and private sector partners. If you want to help be part of the recovery, the best thing you can do is to support these established organizations.

When deciding how you’d like to contribute, keep these tips in mind:

  • Before collecting donated items, confirm the items are needed, and determine how they will get to affected areas.
  • Don’t self-deploy to disaster areas. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed. Work with an established nonprofit organization to make sure you have the appropriate safety, training and skills needed to effectively respond.
  • Recovery lasts much longer than media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often many years, after the disaster. Your help is often needed long after a disaster.

Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through businesses local to the disaster, which supports economic recovery.

You can help those who were impacted by the tornadoes in Kentucky by sending monetary donations to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. Visit the Kentucky Emergency Management page to donate supplies or volunteer your time. To find a specific organization to volunteer for, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Learn more about our partnerships with voluntary and community-based organizations.

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Last updated December 17, 2021