Samaritan’s Purse volunteers spring to action after rash of deadly tornadoes

North Carolina

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – The death toll continues to climb in the Midwest as they search for survivors from a rash of deadly tornadoes continues. On Sunday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says he estimates at least 100 people from his state alone have died in the weekend storms.

Volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse sprang into action as soon as they heard about the severity of the storms. A team of three disaster response specialists left their Boone, NC headquarters Saturday morning. Starting Monday evening, volunteers from across the country will join them in the most affected disaster zones.

Samaritan’s Purse program manager Elliot Willis says he’s been helping out in natural disasters for three years, but the scene in Mayfield, KY is unlike any other he’s seen.

“I’ve done many disasters, but none are the same. This one is definitely very traumatic and very devastating when you look around,” he said.

Aside from the decimated buildings and leveled homes, it’s the sheer loss of life that sets this tragedy apart.

“It’s very widespread,” said Willis. “I was driving in and as soon as I hit the Kentucky line, there was debris right there. And I still had another hour and a half to go.”

In their early aid efforts, volunteers are sifting through what feels like endless rubble, not only hoping to make the clean-up process easier but to help homeowners find any salvageable personal belongings.

“I’ve talked to a handful of individuals here. One of them specifically has lived here since he was six, and he is just heartbroken by what he has seen,” said Willis.

Willis says he anticipates his team will need to stay in Mayfield for up to four weeks but will stay as long as they’re needed. Right now, he says the biggest need in the city is more manpower. His concern is many people who volunteered this weekend will be unable to help throughout the workweek.

If you are interested in volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse, click here.

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