By now we’ve all heard about the tragedy that happened late Friday night and early into Saturday morning — a severe storm that spawned multiple tornadoes impacted several states. Starting in Arkansas, one deadly tornado stayed on the ground for 227 miles, lasting 10 hours and tore through Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Among the worst hit areas was western Kentucky, where the tornado is believed to have caused more than 80 deaths.
Damage and emergency declarations
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear immediately declared a state of emergency and activated over 180 Kentucky National Guard members as well as the Kentucky State Police.
On Saturday, Beshear said, “This will be, I believe, the deadliest tornado system to ever run through Kentucky. Earlier this morning at about 5 a.m., we were pretty sure that we would lose over 50 Kentuckians. I’m now certain that number is north of 70. It may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done. The damage is even worse now that we have first light.”
After Kentucky declared a state of emergency, President Joe Biden issued a federal disaster declaration for more than a dozen counties in Kentucky, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be involved in disaster relief efforts.
The tornado hit many areas at the darkest hour. However, in the morning, the sun rose and residents of the affected areas were able to see the damage. But they saw even more than just the damage, they saw neighbor helping neighbor and help arriving by the trailer load.
With such a widespread area, many FFA chapters were affected as well. Multiple FFA chapters have reported damage not only to their school and barns, but also destroying the homes of many students. The Kentucky FFA Association is coordinating relief efforts to assist these chapters. Late Sunday evening, the organization identified the relief needs for many chapters in the area. In the post, surrounding FFA chapters are working to collect supplies and bring them to the affected area and individuals.
How you can help
Although the full extent of damage is still being assessed, requests for help are starting to emerge. In Kentucky, FFA chapters that were affected the most include Graves County FFA (Mayfield), Hickman County FFA, and Boyle County FFA.
At a time when the skyline has been flattened, rebuilding the community is a must. Before that can rebuild, clean up and materials are required. According to volunteers who are currently in Kentucky, they are in need of generators, chain saws, bar oil, kerosene heaters, plywood and larger plastic totes. In addition, daily basics like water, baby items, canned foods, hygiene products, dog food, blankets, tarps, and paper products are also needed.
If you are not local to Kentucky but still want to help, donations are greatly appreciated. These funds will help Kentuckians rebuild, repair, and provide resources for volunteers.
- Gov. Beshear has established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to assist those impacted by the tornados and the severe weather system.
- Seneca FFA Chapter is accepting cash and gift cards to help local FFA chapters.
- The Western Kentucky Red Cross has already partnered with Facebook and set up an online method for those who want to help to make donations.
- The United Way of Kentucky has set up a Disaster Recovery Fund to support Kentucky communities in need.
Prayers and support
Community members are requesting prayers and support, as the full magnitude of destruction is still unknown. The volunteers who have arrived with goods and supplies are at a loss for words — only noting that the actual destruction is worse than it looks on TV. So, if you don’t have the means to donate and believe in prayer, pray for those who lost their lives, those who have suffered a structural loss, and for those who are volunteering their time and talents to help.
Although their communities have just witnessed one of the worst storm systems in decades, FFA members are already organizing relief initiatives. That is what makes FFA members a pillar of their communities — they are there to help, with the backing of over 735,000 members throughout 8,817 chapters. Even though multiple communities have been impacted by the destructive storm system, the FFA organization and its members will be there to support them.