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Hoosiers helping neighboring Kentucky after deadly tornadoes

Midwest Tornadoes
Posted at 7:46 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 09:28:52-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers from across the state are either on the ground or making their way to Kentucky after the state suffered incredible loss following deadly tornadoes.

“When we see needs, we try to fill them,” Awakening Church Lead Pastor Ashlyn Kippert said.

Hoosier hospitality is extending to the Bluegrass state.

“Most of the world is out there caring about each other and this is a time we find out what we’re really made of,” Christy Wareham, a responder with the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross, said.

Indiana Task Force 1 left over the weekend for Mayfield, Kentucky where they are assisting in a search and rescue mission at a candle factory. On Monday, the team was set to conduct crane operations at the site.

"The devastation down here is horrific. It's some of the worst devastations I've seen," Indiana Task Force Project Manager Tom Neal said.

tf1 in kentucky.jpg

Neal told CNN thanks to the work of multiple crews and the owner of the candle factory, they are pretty confident there are no other people inside the building. The factory is in an industrial area with other buildings around it.

"Clearly, the candle factory took the direct hit from the tornado and from our vantage point ... you can clearly see the tornado path that went through Mayfield, Kentucky and you can see the damage that it left behind," Neal said in his interview with Anderson Cooper.

Wareham rented a car and drove to Bowling Green, Kentucky with three strangers. The Indianapolis-based grandfather is helping families, some who lost everything, at a temporary shelter.

“Just sitting around and not helping just made me feel worse, so I just decided yup I’ll take a few weeks out of my life and go help people where I can,” Wareham said.

Kippert is with Awakening Church and the Indiana Dream Center out of Huntington near Fort Wayne.

“We love Indiana, but a piece of our heart is still in Kentucky,” Kippert said in a phone interview.

The faith-based center is collecting donations for Kentucky tornado victims. Kippert said the community really came together with local businesses donating goods and neighbors regularly dropping off supplies.

This all is a personal mission for the mom of two. Kippert is from Paducah, about 30 miles from the pure devastation in Mayfield.

“I’ve never, ever heard a meteorologist say it’s time to stop and pray and that’s when I knew it was really, really bad,” Kippert said.

Kippert said her family is okay, but their hearts — and hers too — are heavy.

“It’s obviously warming my heart to know that it’s not just Kentucky helping Kentucky, but other states coming together. And when people see a need, they really do want to fill it,” Kippert said.

On Tuesday morning, the Indiana Dream Center will drive down the 20-foot trailer and a truck full of donations. Kippert said her team plans on helping Kentucky rebuild for months to come.

“We just saw a need and we knew that it needed to be filled,” Kippert said.

MORE | President Biden plans to visit Kentucky Wednesday to view storm damage

The Midwest Food Bank said it is “on standby” and has seven semi loads packed and ready to head to Kentucky.

"Most people in these communities will be preparing for family to come in. Children will be looking at the presents under the tree or taking trips to see the Christmas lights. They would be enjoying their family tradition. Now thousands in four or five states will be wondering where they're going to stay the night," said John Whitaker, executive director of Midwest Food Bank Indiana.  

3,120 boxes are packed and ready to ship. Each family food box has enough shelf-stable food to feed a family of four for four to five days.

"That Bible is right on the top of that box when people open it. Because there's more wisdom and help and comfort in that than anything we could possibly give them," Whitaker said. "People ask all the time, 'John, how are you going to respond?' And I always say we're going to respond how our community allows us to respond."

The Southport Police Department is also collecting donations for those impacted by the deadly tornadoes in Kentucky.

"We decided we needed to do something. So, I quickly sent a memo up the chain of command," Sgt. William Robertson said. "It makes you sick to your stomach. We like to help everybody in any way possible. So, seeing the widespread devastation: they need help, they need manpower, they need supplies."

Here is a list of donations needed:

To help through the Red Cross:

  • Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance. 
  • Eligible blood donors in parts of the country unaffected by the storm are encouraged to give blood to help ensure a sufficient blood supply. Through our national inventory system, the Red Cross can move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most. 
  • Red Cross continues to search for disaster action team (DAT) volunteers. As a DAT volunteer, you’ll provide emotional support, financial assistance, and information to help families begin the process of recovery. Volunteers will be trained to respond to these emergencies. Those interested in volunteering can sign up at redcross.org/dat

MORE | Here's how you can help Kentucky rebuild after devastating tornadoes

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