More than ninety people have died and hundreds of others have been injured following a devastating series of tornadoes that hit towns across the midwestern United States. In Kentucky alone, 75 people have been confirmed as victims of these natural disasters, with the number expected to rise as authorities continue to search through the wreckage left behind.
Between December 10th and 11th, more than forty tornadoes swept through the area spanning the states of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Tornadoes are fairly rare during the winter months, as the formation for these cataclysmic events requires a circling mass of warm air mixing with colder stratospheric currents, more often found during hot summers. However, a multistate meteorological event bridging the southern seaboard and leading to high winds across the great lake facilitated these conditions. The paths of the tornadoes bridged three states, forming two massive, five hundred mile lines stretching from Missouri and Arkansas to Central Illinois and northern Kentucky. Many Americans were unprepared for the unexpected tornadoes or were already enduring the hardships caused by the winter temperatures, exacerbating the casualties and impeding a speedy response to find and support residents. Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY) has called this event the most devastating in Kentucky history, with “a huge number of Kentuckians to lose.” He added, “We mourn with their families.”
In Mayfield, Kentucky, hundreds of residents huddled together from the storm were injured or killed when a tornado swept through a candle factory. In another heartbreaking scene, an Amazon warehouse located in Southeastern Illinois was hit by another tornado, leading to a roof collapse on the workers present at the facility. The catastrophic damage incurred by the tornadoes has devastated dozens of towns across these states, which have become harder and harder hit as the so-called “tornado alley” shifts eastward.
In addition to the hundreds injured and dead from the tornadoes, tens of thousands of individuals have been left homeless in the aftermath of the storms. Even more — potentially two hundred thousand people — have been temporarily left without power or access to potable water. In areas of Kentucky and Illinois, a lack of utilities poses a serious risk to the wellbeing of residents, who currently experience temperatures ranging from highs in the mid fifties to lows well below freezing at night. At a news briefing in Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-AK) said “Probably the most remarkable thing is that there’s not a greater loss of life.” While many have had their access to fuel, water, and power restored recently, many have also had their power and water lines ripped out of the ground and face longer waiting periods.
In response to the tragedy in Kentucky and other states, Americans from surrounding areas have united in support of those affected. Residents from nearby communities have driven in from their neighborhoods to deliver crucial supplies such as food, water, clothing, and transportation to those in need. First responders have also arrived from across the country to clean up the wreckage and offer resources to those devastated.
President Biden has announced the full support of the federal government in addressing the cataclysm, saying “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together […] The federal government is not going to walk away.” As of his announcement, FEMA has sent in large shipments of resources and provisions for the residents of these states to help minimize the short and long term effects of the disasters, and has pledged to continue work until all are helped.
If you or anyone you know would like to support the victims of this event, you can donate at this link: