The recovery efforts are just beginning for those in the path of the devastating tornadoes that tore through six states on Friday night. Local and national volunteers and aid groups are prepared to rescue and feed and give shelter to those who have been affected by the storms, which killed at least 90 people.
The tornado outbreak created almost unfathomable levels of destruction across Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, the authorities said. From a flattened candle factory in Kentucky to a ravaged Amazon warehouse in Illinois, the storms showed no mercy for those who were in its path. Kentucky in particular was hit hard by the storms.
Here are some ways you can help relief efforts.
Before you give, do your research.
Before you make a donation, especially to a lesser-known organization, you should do some research to make sure it is reputable. Sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar grade nonprofits based on transparency and effectiveness. The Internal Revenue Service also allows you to search its database to find out whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. And if you suspect an organization or individual of committing fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, part of the Justice Department.
Here are some local groups that are pitching in.
Blood Assurance, which collects blood donations across its locations in the South, is asking people to make appointments because of a “critical need” for supply in Tennessee and Kentucky.
For people in the area of Bowling Green, Ky., the Bowling Green Fire Department is seeking volunteers to help with recovery efforts. Send the department a Facebook message with your name, contact information and the type of assistance you can provide.
Brother’s Brother Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based organization that provides disaster relief, is accepting donations so it can donate to food banks in Arkansas and Kentucky. It is also sending items to victims and emergency crews in affected areas.
Kentucky Branded, a clothing store in Lexington, is donating all of the proceeds from the sales of its “Pray for Kentucky” T-shirt to communities affected by the tornadoes. The shirt costs $20.
The Kentucky State Police in Mayfield are asking interested volunteers to call 270-331-1979.
Taylor County Bank in Campbellsville, Ky., is accepting donations by mail to its fund for tornado victims. Its mailing address is P.O. Box 200 Campbellsville, Ky., 42719.
The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, created by Gov. Andy Beshear, is collecting donations for victims in the western portion of the state.
Some national organizations are helping out.
AmeriCares, a health-focused relief and development organization, has sent an emergency response team to Kentucky and has offered assistance to health care facilities in several states. The organization is accepting donations to help fund these efforts.
CARE, an organization that works with impoverished communities, is collecting money to provide food, cash and clean water to the tornado victims.
Convoy of Hope, an organization that feeds the hungry, is asking for donations to help the survivors across the affected states.
Global Empowerment Mission, a disaster-relief organization, has partnered with local groups and is raising money to help its team on the ground in Kentucky.
GoFundMe has created a centralized hub with verified fund-raisers to help those affected by the tornadoes. It will be updated with new fund-raisers as they are verified.
International Medical Corps, an organization that provides emergency medical services, is raising funds to give people shelter and essential items.
The Salvation Army is soliciting donations to help tornado victims in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Team Rubicon, a disaster-relief organization, is raising money to help its team of military veterans and volunteers clear roads in Western Kentucky.
The United Way of Kentucky is asking for donations to provide support services for families in the state who were affected by the tornadoes.