Mobilizing Relief for Tornado-Damaged Communities

Direct Relief is coordinating assistance for communities in multiple states affected by deadly storms.

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Tornadoes

Residents of Bowling Green, Kentucky, survey damage following a tornado that struck the area on December 11, 2021. Tornadoes ripped through mutliple U.S. states over the weekend, leaving more than 70 people dead Saturday in Kentucky. (Photo by Gunnar Word/AFP)

Rescuers are searching for survivors after an estimated 30 tornadoes over the weekend wrought severe devastation across six states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Up to 90 people are feared dead, with Kentucky alone reporting at least 80 casualties.

Officials warned that the death toll may rise as emergency responders search for survivors amid destroyed and unstable buildings.

Tens of thousands are without power, heat and water, and regional temperatures Monday night are expected to dip as low as 30 degrees.

Direct Relief connected early Saturday morning with health centers and clinics across the six tornado-damaged states.

Direct Relief supports nonprofit health centers and charitable clinics in the affected area on an ongoing basis. In the past week alone, Direct Relief delivered more than 30 shipments of requested medical aid containing 42 thousand doses of medication to healthcare facilities in Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas.

With needs assessments and relief operations underway, Direct Relief is also coordinating efforts with several national and state groups, including primary care associations in Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana, The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, or VOAD.

The organization is making its substantial inventory of critical medical resources available to them and is preparing to ship free-of-charge requested medical aid.

The most requested items from Direct Relief’s inventory following tornadoes include emergency medical backpacks, personal hygiene kits, over-the-counter products and personal protective equipment.

It’s also critical to ensure access to medicines for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions, which can put patients at higher risk of a medical emergency.

Often after severe weather, medical needs develop, beyond emergency trauma from the storm. Evacuees or displaced residents may be cut off from essential medicines needed to manage chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, which can result in emergency room visits, if not managed with an uninterrupted supply of medications and care.

At the health facility level, backup power may be needed for refrigerated medicines, and hygiene kits for displaced people may also be requested.

Health needs during storm recovery and clean-up also often arise, as residents move back into damaged areas to begin work, which may prompt requests for tetanus vaccines and protective gear.

Direct Relief will share more information on its response as the situation evolves.


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Up to 30 tornadoes wrought severe devastation across six states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

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