(NEXSTAR) – Many of us woke up to the images of destruction and death across states like Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, and Tennessee, wondering what we could do to help. Thousands of families will be forced from their homes during the holidays and then begin the long road of repairing or rebuilding their property.
The American Red Cross is already on the ground assisting families affected by the storms. Red Cross teams in Missouri and Arkansas have tweeted that they’re assessing the situation and beginning relief efforts. In a matter of hours, hundreds of workers and volunteers will be working across the region to provide relief to those in need.
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. Online donations amounts begin as low as $10.
While it’s too early to gauge the true impact of this storm, it’s estimated more than 50 people perished as the massive system moved through the region late Friday into Saturday morning. It’s possible this was the first-ever “quad-state” tornado, according to WKRN meteorologist Mary Mays. It will be days before the National Weather Service will be able to confirm whether this was one tornado or multiple twisters.
Western Kentucky appears to be the hardest hit. On Saturday morning, search and rescue teams were still going through the rubble, unable to confirm the number of people who had died.
“We just can’t confirm a number right now because we are still out there working, and we have so many agencies involved in helping us,” Kentucky State Police Trooper Sarah Burgess said.
She said rescue crews are using heavy equipment to move rubble at a candle factory that was struck by a tornado in Mayfield. Coroners have been called to the scene and bodies have been recovered, but she didn’t know how many.
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians and probably end up 70 to 100,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at a news conference Saturday. “It’s very hard, really tough, and we’re praying for each and every one of those families.”
President Joe Biden tweeted Saturday that he was briefed on the situation and pledged the affected states would “have what they need as the search for survivors and damage assessments continue.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)