GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Over the weekend, the country woke up to disaster and tragedy after a tornado spanning at least 200 miles hit Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday 64 people in the state were confirmed dead. He added 105 people were unaccounted for and at least 70 people were likely dead.
“We believe it will certainly be above 70, maybe even 80. With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives.”
The most recent reports show the tornadoes killed at least 12 additional people in other states.
In Tennessee, at least four people have been confirmed dead. In Monette, Arkansas, one was killed when a tornado hit a nursing home. One other person in the state also died. Six people were killed in Edwardsville, Illinois after the roof of an Amazon warehouse collapsed during a storm. There were 45 people rescued from the rubble, and it’s unclear how many remain missing.
9OYS reached out to local emergency service organizations and utility companies to see if they had plans to send assistance to the areas affected.
The North Carolina Department of Emergency Management says they have no plans at this point to send any state resources from North Carolina to Kentucky. They say FEMA has deployed search and rescue teams from Indiana, Ohio, Tennesee and Missouri since they are much closer to the affected areas.
Local non-profits Baptists on Mission, located out of Cary, and Samaritan’s Purse, located out of Boone, are deploying volunteers and resources to assist with disaster relief.
The Eastern North Carolina Chapter of The American Red Cross is also deploying volunteers. Barry Porter, Regional Chief Officer for the Red Cross tells 9OYS so far, they’ve deployed seven volunteers directly to the ground, and two who are assisting with relief efforts virtually.
The volunteers will assist in many ways.
“We are sending a professional mental health worker, a spiritual care worker as well because you can replace some of the things folks lost, but the emotional toll is also significant post-disaster,” Porter said. “We are also providing some additional volunteers who have experience in large-scale disasters. They’re working in shelters, leadership, management, government and partner relationships.”
The volunteers come from Fayetteville, Durham and Raleigh. They’re being deployed based on their skillset and leadership roles in similar disaster situations. “They know what to do from the logistics side, from the planning side, and from the emotional support side.”
Porter expects around 1,200 to 1,500 volunteers from the Red Cross to deploy to the affected areas over the next few days. He says the volunteers are committed for at least two, possibly three weeks and they’ll be working 12- to 14-hour shifts.
Porter also said many of these volunteers could be assisting with relief efforts until the early part of 2022. For many of them, giving up their holiday plans to help these families struck by tragedy and disaster.
Our station is partnering with the Red Cross to raise disaster relief funds for those impacted by these storms. If you’d like to make a donation, you can follow this link, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift today.