Response Updates

Midwest Tornado Response

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May 2, 2014 | 12:30 p.m.

VILONIA, AR — Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team has been working diligently to bring relief to survivors since this week’s tornadoes first showed up on the radar.

“In total, we’ve shipped more than 107,895 pounds of relief supplies to Arkansas, Kansas, and Mississippi,” says Chris Dudley, Disaster Services Response Director. “Our teams are working with local volunteers to distribute relief and assist homeowners with debris removal.”

As of Thursday, May 1, volunteers had already put in a combined 800 hours of immediate relief work for tornado survivors. “People and organizations are pulling together,” said Jimmy Casey, a Convoy of Hope volunteer, as he carried a stack of large totes to Lauri and Dana Jones, homeowners who’d lost everything.

“Convoy of Hope and their donors just want to help people — it’s beyond helpful, they’re giving out of their heart.” Jimmy and a team of Convoy of Hope volunteers helped the Jones’s sort through a pile of debris that was their home prior the EF-4 tornado that moved through Vilonia, Arkansas, on Sunday, April 27.

Lauri, her husband Dana, and their dog Roscoe, survived the storm in an underground shelter — but now live in a tornado damaged Toyota minivan with a tent draped over the missing windows. Despite their situation, the couple remains positive.

“We feel blessed that we’re even able to be out here to deal with this,” said Dana who pointed out the homes of neighbors who’d been severely injured.

“There’s just no words I can really put it into other than grateful and blessed and really appreciative for what Convoy of Hope is doing for us right now.” said Lauri, as Convoy of Hope volunteers worked behind her. “Don’t wallow in what’s around you, just look forward, because better things will happen, better things will come.”

Lauri Jones stands in front of the remnants of her home (R) and the tornado damaged minivan that she has been living in (L).
Jimmy Casey, a Convoy of Hope volunteer, at a cleanup site.

April 30, 2014 | 1:45 p.m.

VILONIA, AR — Our Disaster Services team and volunteers are distributing debris removal supplies and food to tornado survivors. In doing so, they are not only bringing much-needed supplies to families in need, they are giving people a sense of hope.

“We’re distributing trash bags, trash cans, shovels, rakes, and other cleanup supplies along with grocery bags full of easy to prepare or ready-to-eat food,” says Nick Wiersma, Disaster Services Community Engagement Director.

“In doing so, we’re being afforded opportunities to come alongside families who are hurting.” Yesterday, Convoy of Hope volunteers approached what was left of Carol Arnett’s grandson’s home in Vilonia and offered to help the family clean up.

“When you’re down to nothing, God is up to something,” said Arnett, standing in the rubble of the home. Her grandson, Daniel Wasson, a 31-year-old Air Force veteran, died while protecting his daughters from the tornado.

“This is why we’re here,” said Wiersma. “This family is hurting in so many ways, they need some help.” The volunteers, all from a local church in Vilonia, spent the day with Arnett and her family by cleaning, sorting through the rubble, and providing words of encouragement.

“You don’t know how valuable the resources are that Convoy of Hope offers until you are in a place when you need them,” said one local leader. “When you’re donating to Convoy of Hope, it’s about more than just you. It’s about more than just your community, it’s about thinking of others.”

Tonight, a tractor-trailer load of food, water, and cleaning supplies will arrive in Louisville, Mississippi, where a tornado touched down yesterday.

Carol stands amidst the rubble of her grandson’s home in Vilonia, Arkansas.

April 29, 2014 | 11:30 a.m.

Our Disaster Services team sent tractor-trailer loads of supplies to Baxter Springs, Kansas, and Vilonia, Arkansas, this morning to aid tornado survivors. The load of supplies arrived in Baxter Springs shortly after 9 a.m. and the load headed for Arkansas is expected to arrive this afternoon.

“The food, water, and supplies will be distributed throughout the communities by our Disaster Services team members and with the help of local volunteers,” says Chris Dudley, Disaster Services Response Director.

According to Dudley, the Convoy of Hope Disaster Services team will continue to identify needs and bring help and hope to those impacted from severe weather in Kansas and Arkansas. Yesterday, more storms and tornadoes struck in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi killing at least 11 people and leveling dozens of homes and businesses.

“We are working with our on-the-ground partners in all states impacted by the storms,” says Dudley.

Tornado damage in Baxter Springs, Kansas.

April 28, 2014 | 3:30 p.m.

Disaster Services assessment teams have established contacts in the tornado affected communities of Baxter Springs, Kansas, and Vilonia, Arkansas, and plans for response are being formulated. We’re sending a full load of aid to Baxter Springs for mobile distribution including food, water, and assorted cleaning supplies. Local church volunteers will carry out the distribution efforts.

“Convoy of Hope gives hope to a community,” says Dallas Satterfield, pastor of Baxter Springs First Assembly of God. “We don’t have the resources or the man power to do this, but with Convoy of Hope we can help our community.”

Contact has been made in Vilonia with a local church partner. The assessment team has requested a full load of product for Vilonia. At this time, homeowners are not allowed into the impacted area. We also have an assessment team en route to Mayflower, Arkansas, to establish face-to-face contact with local pastors and Emergency Management Officials.

“We’re also closely monitoring an ongoing tornado outbreak occurring this afternoon in Mississippi and the southern U.S.,” says Chris Dudley, Disaster Services Response Director.

Dallas Satterfield points to where the debris field was moving when he ran into his church that sheltered more than 100 people during the Baxter Springs tornado.

Apirl 28, 2014 | 10 a.m.

Our Disaster Services assessment teams are en route to Quapaw, Oklahoma; Baxter Springs, Kansas; and central Arkansas communities where tornadoes caused extensive damage yesterday.

“Our prayers are with the families whose lives have been impacted by these storms,” says Hal Donaldson, President and co-founder of Convoy of Hope. “Our teams will provide crucial information that will help us as we make plans in the coming days and monitor additional severe weather forecasted in these areas throughout the week.”

Convoy of Hope is monitoring current severe weather forecasted to impact the Central and Southern U.S. throughout the week.

Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team assesses tornado damage and needs in Baxter Springs, Kansas.

April 27, 2014 | 11 p.m.

Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team is closely monitoring the developing severe weather outbreak in the Midwest from our operations center in Springfield, Missouri. The Associated Press is reporting multiple tornado outbreaks across Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

“We’re in a developing situation when it comes to storm damage and subsequent communities affected so we’re closely monitoring damage reports,” says Chris Dudley, Disaster Services Response Director.

“We’ll be monitoring this situation throughout the night and through the day tomorrow.”

Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team also responded to both the Joplin, Missouri, and Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes and will continue to develop disaster response efforts as severe weather impacts the United States.

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