Editorial: Kentucky, storm-hit states need our help

Volunteers help Martha Thomas, second left, salvage possessions Monday from her destroyed home in the aftermath of tornadoes that tore through Mayfield, Ky.

Associated Press

Scenes from last week’s tornadoes that ripped a deadly path through parts of Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri are devastating and heartbreaking. Severe storms also brought death and destruction to parts of Arkansas and Tennessee.

With scores killed and entire communities reduced to rubble, it’s clear that this will be no ordinary recovery. Federal emergency disaster aid was quickly approved, and emergency responders flocked to the area to help get basic services restored and begin the arduous process of picking up the pieces.

If you’ve seen images from places such as Mayfield or Dawson Springs, Kentucky, you can get a sense of just how powerful these unseasonal storms were. But you also hope that you will never know what it feels like to go through something like this.

As is their custom, firefighters such as Columbus’ Marcus Gruner were fast to respond to lend a hand. Gruner was deployed in the wake of the storms as a member of Indiana Task Force 1 to conduct search and rescue operations in Mayfield.

It’s possible there could be fewer killed by these powerful storms than initially feared. Still, the confirmed death toll of more than 60 in Kentucky alone is among the highest ever for a storm in the Bluegrass State.

Teams like those Gruner is serving will be working tirelessly to find any survivors, and the task before them will be hard, slow-going and hazardous. May they be safe in coming to the rescue of others, playing their critical role in helping communities that are reeling from the storm.

Likewise, people of good will want to do what they can to help survivors, and we’re sure to be hearing news of local people and organizations who take up that challenge and help in whatever way they can.

Anytime disaster strikes, there are always worthy and reliable charities, beginning with the American Red Cross. If you’re interested in donating time or money, contact the organization at redcross.org.

Red Cross and other charities were concerned about low blood supplies even before last week’s storms, and donating blood is one of the best ways to directly help save lives. According to Blood Assurance, which collects blood donations in the South, both Kentucky and Tennessee had a critical need for blood.

The New York Times reported multiple organizations including the Salvation Army, United Way of Kentucky, AmeriCares and others have begun soliciting online donations for storm victims. Gofundme also has established a hub for donations for verified charities in storm-ravaged areas.

There are numerous charities lending a hand, and the best way to help is with donations of money to give these organizations flexibility to address immediate needs on the ground.

Having said that, we also know unscrupulous fraudsters pop up anytime disaster strikes. Do your research before giving. The Times suggests that, if you have any doubts, you should check sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar to determine how effective and transparent an organization is before you donate.

If you’re able to help our neighboring states in this time of profound need, please do. The unsettling truth is, living as we do in a tornado-prone state, what happened in Kentucky could have happened here.