Response Updates

Long-Term Recovery Underway After December Tornadoes

USA Reported by Convoy of Hope

February 9, 2021 | 9:35 a.m.

The historic tornado outbreak of December 11 left survivors devastated. Tornadoes across Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee ravaged communities and created a long road to recovery. Months afterward, Convoy of Hope is still responding, and in a long-term capacity. 

Immediately after the disaster, Convoy of Hope distributed more than 400,000 pounds of emergency relief supplies across multiple states. Now, as needs change and survivors begin long-term recovery, Convoy’s response is shifting to meet those needs.

Tornado Relief

“Because of our generous partners, Convoy of Hope will be able to spend much of the next year helping those who were affected by the tornadoes rebuild their lives and their homes,” said Stacy Lamb of Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team. 

Many of those still in desperate need were uninsured or underinsured when the storm struck. Survivors who sustained major losses — such as appliances or entire homes — may have little resources to rebuild their lives now that initial recovery efforts have, for the most part, slowed down. This is why Convoy of Hope maintains a long-term presence.

Convoy recently procured a warehouse that houses supplies for long-term recovery, including building materials. This hub allows for Disaster Services to efficiently and consistently provide help.

Thanks to your support, Convoy will continue to provide hope across affected communities. To contribute to Convoy of Hope as this response continues in the months to come, click here

January 13, 2021 | 5:00 p.m.

​​“This community has seen things they were never meant to see. They’ve heard things they were never meant to hear,” said Joel Cauley of Relevant Church in Paducah, Kentucky.

As soon as the tornado had passed, Joel went straight to the twisted pile of metal that was once a candle factory. His goal was to help in any way he could. He quickly found a way.

“I was handed a stack of cellphones that we had been finding in all of the rubble,” Joel said. “I was actually fielding phone calls from people wanting to know if their loved ones were dead or alive.”

In the weeks to follow, Joel continued to serve his community alongside Convoy of Hope. Through this response, Convoy has served more than 256,000 pounds of relief supplies to more than 13,000 tornado survivors across seven impacted communities.

Convoy of Hope will continue to serve these communities in the long term as they continue to recover.

“When this is yesterday’s news and everybody else’s normal, you guys are still standing strong,” Joel said.

To contribute to Convoy as this response continues, click here.

December 17, 2021 | 1:10 p.m.

One week after tornadoes barrelled through southern and midwestern portions of the U.S., many are still reeling. Convoy of Hope’s response has reached thousands, and will continue as affected communities recover.

“Seeing the devastation firsthand gives you more of an idea of the scope of the disaster,” said Convoy’s National Spokesperson, Ethan Forhetz. “There are many people who lost everything and they need our help. Convoy of Hope continues to give them the resources they so desperately need right now, but also hope that tomorrow is going to be a better day.”

Convoy of Hope is distributing food, water, winter clothes, hygiene kits, cleanup supplies, generators, and other emergency relief supplies. Partners in the community are helping with distribution. Donors across the U.S. have contributed to the response, multiplying Convoy of Hope’s impact.

Thanks to your support, Convoy can continue to provide both short-term and long-term relief. To contribute to Convoy of Hope’s response, click here.

December 16, 2021 | 2:05 p.m.

More storms rolled through southern and midwestern states on Wednesday night. Although last weekend’s weather was much more severe, the recent storm system brought precipitation and a dip in temperatures to communities where many are still unsheltered. Rain or shine, Convoy of Hope continues to provide relief in communities across the disaster zone.

Although the tornadic outbreak left many without power or shelter, Convoy can meet survivors’ immediate needs by providing winter clothing, generators, and sheltering supplies.

With the help of organizational partners, volunteers, and other dedicated supporters, Convoy has already distributed more than 180,000 pounds of food, water, and relief supplies to individuals in seven different communities.

“Our goal is to be here in the long term,” said Nick Wiersma, Vice President of Convoy’s Disaster Services team. “We want to let them know that they’re not alone.”

To join Convoy of Hope in providing support for communities affected by these storms, click here.

December 15, 2021 | 1:30 p.m.

“Thank you. You’re doing God’s work,” President Joe Biden told Convoy of Hope during a visit to Kentucky earlier today.

President Biden flew to Kentucky to survey the damage caused by last weekend’s devastating storm. The president viewed the disaster zone from a helicopter. As he flew over Mayfield, Kentucky, Convoy of Hope was on the ground distributing relief supplies to those in need.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Federal Disaster Agency Head Deanne Criswell, and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also joined the president.

President Joe Biden surveys storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Wednesday, December. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Convoy of Hope has sent nine tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies to multiple affected communities in response to last week’s historic storms. Convoy’s response will continue as survivors rebuild and recover. To support Convoy of Hope’s work, click here.

December 14, 2021 | 3:36 p.m.

As Convoy of Hope’s response to the recent outbreak of tornadoes continues, the scope of the damage has become even more apparent.

Convoy of Hope team members deliver relief supplies to communities affected by the recent outbreak of tornadoes.

Friday’s storms killed at least 88 people across five states. That number may continue to rise as search and rescue teams scour the disaster zone. Meanwhile, 27,000 residents of Kentucky are without running water or are under boil advisories, according to the state’s Emergency Management Director, Michael Dossett. 

In an interview with CNN, Dossett referred to Friday as “one of the darkest days in the state’s history.” 

Local crews are working to restore power after the storm left more than 250,000 individuals without electricity. Pressure continues to mount in hard-hit areas like Mayfield, Kentucky, where the forecast calls for below-freezing temperatures before the end of the week. 

In a hopeful turn of events, preparedness saved lives at a Kentucky nursing home, where 74 residents participated in a tornado drill just hours before the storm struck. They quickly put their plan into practice as a tornado approached that evening. Despite a direct hit, all residents survived.

Photo above: People help retrieve items from a destroyed home on Saturday, December 11, 2021, in Mayfield, Kentucky. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across several states Friday, killing multiple people overnight. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Still, many in affected areas remain without shelter or basic necessities. Convoy’s response has already brought approximately 130,000 pounds of food, water, relief supplies, sheltering supplies, and cleanup supplies to more than 7,000 individuals in need of relief. Because of the fast-approaching winter weather, Convoy of Hope has also begun to distribute winter clothes and coats in addition to other supplies.

“Our goal for this response is to help as many communities as we can, as quickly as we can,” said Alysan Burgbacher of Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team.
Convoy will continue to provide relief as storm survivors begin to rebuild. To contribute to our response, click here.

December 13, 2021 | 4:30 p.m.

“I don’t think we have seen damage at this scale, ever,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in a press conference Sunday.

This weekend, a devastating storm struck the Midwest and the South. Experts believe that one single storm formed tornadoes in Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee. Convoy of Hope was quick to respond.

The news coming out of communities hit by Friday’s tornado outbreak is heart-wrenching. Officials have confirmed 64 deaths in Kentucky, with another 105 people remaining unaccounted for. An additional 13 people have died in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri, bringing the overall death toll to 77.

More than 1,000 homes were destroyed in Kentucky alone. Tens of thousands are without power, which means no heat during freezing winter nights.

The National Weather Service described one of Friday night’s tornadoes as “a historic long-track tornado.” Early estimates indicate that the tornado generated wind speeds in excess of 200 mph as it relentlessly tore across four states, leaving a trail of splintered homes and rubble approximately three quarters of a mile wide. Most tornadoes are on the ground for minutes at a time; that particular tornado was active for more than two hours.

Convoy of Hope quickly made contact with several churches in the affected area and sent multiple loads of relief supplies — including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies, and other necessities — to the disaster zone from the World Distribution Center.

Convoy will continue working with state and local governments, community leaders, and volunteers to identify the best way to help moving forward. To contribute to Convoy of Hope’s response to this disaster, click here.

December 12, 2021 | 11:55 a.m.

Recovery continues along the more than 200-mile path of destruction caused by tornadoes originating in Arkansas and ending midway through Kentucky on Friday night. While the exact number of tornadoes spawned, the time they were on the ground, and their intensity are still being evaluated, the tragic aftermath of the storm is becoming more clear. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll is likely between 70 and 100 people in his state. There were another six confirmed fatalities at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, and eight others were killed across Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. The financial cost of the damage is also expected to be very high.  

“Because the destruction is so widespread, Convoy of Hope is working tirelessly to get much-needed resources to multiple locations to help those who need them most,” said Stacy Lamb, Senior Director of Convoy of Hope’s U.S. Disaster Services team.

Relief supplies destined for communities affected by the tornadoes are loaded at Convoy of Hope’s World Distribution Center.

Convoy of Hope quickly made contact with several churches in the affected areas and sent multiple loads of relief supplies from the World Distribution Center to assist residents as they start to recover. Convoy will continue working with state and local governments, community leaders, and volunteers in identifying the best way to help moving forward.

Join us in our response by donating here.

December 11, 2021 | 4:15 p.m.

After last night’s devastating storms, Convoy of Hope has relief supplies en route to the disaster zone. 

“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history,” Kentucky Governor Andrew Beshear told reporters on Saturday morning. 

Officials have already confirmed at least 28 dead across Kentucky, Illinois, and Arkansas after the tornadic outbreak that occurred last night in the South and Midwest. Other reports indicated that debris from the storm may have blown more than 120 miles.

Missouri resident Mark Borgmann lost his mother in the storm. His 84-year-old father, Vernon, woke up in a field, surrounded by debris after a tornado struck their home. Vernon sustained minor injuries, but is in stable condition. 

“It’s a mess,” Mark told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

The National Weather Service took to social media on Friday and urged those in the storm’s path to prepare to take shelter. The Weather Channel reported more than 500,000 power outages as of Saturday afternoon.

Convoy of Hope has tractor-trailers full of relief supplies — including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies, and other necessities — en route to the disaster zone. Join us in our response by donating here.

December 11, 2021 | 8:42 a.m.

Convoy of Hope is responding to the tornadic outbreak that occurred last night across the South and Midwest. Tornadoes were reported in Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. Early reports show the tornado that tracked through the latter four states may have been on the ground for more than 100 miles.

tornado response
Emergency vehicles stage outside an Amazon fulfillment center after it was heavily damaged when a strong thunderstorm moved through the area Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The storm that struck Illinois hit an Amazon warehouse; fatalities have been reported, but no exact number has been shared. Two deaths have been reported in Arkansas. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has declared a state of emergency and shared in a news conference that 50 to 100 people likely died in the storm, most of whom were working at the same factory when the storm hit.

As of this morning, more than a quarter of a million people are without power across the five states.

Convoy of Hope is responding with relief supplies, including tarps, food, water, cleanup supplies, and other necessities. We will continue to post updates here. Join us in our response by donating here.

Damage from a tornado is seen in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday, December 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing several people overnight. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


Today, we’re celebrating #Juneteenth! The holiday celebrates African American history and culture, and the end of slavery on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth not only calls us to reflect on history, but also the continued work ahead.
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