On December 10 and 11, 2021, a series of more than 50 tornadoes spawned by powerful storms swept through six states in the central and southern US, causing significant damage and more than 90 deaths—a number that could increase as search-and-rescue operations continue. Kentucky was especially devastated by the storms, with at least 80 deaths. Damage to infrastructure has been widespread, with hundreds of thousands in the region without power and hundreds without shelter.
Kentucky Governor Andy Bashear declared a state of emergency on December 10, deploying the National Guard to help with the response; President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Kentucky the next day, bringing federal resources to bear. Damage and needs assessments are being performed in the affected areas by local emergency management agencies, and more information will likely become available as efforts continue.
International Medical Corps has been in contact with Kentucky Emergency Management, as well as local emergency response organizations, and has sent a team to conduct assessments in the western part of the state, which was especially hard-hit. We anticipate that immediate needs will include assistance for citizens and businesses displaced by the tornadoes, and—similar to our response to Hurricane Ida, which struck Louisiana in August—could include working with local partners to provide temporary shelters, generators, medical supplies and equipment, and hygiene items. With many people forced into close proximity in shelters, transmission of COVID remains a risk, so we also will be focusing on providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control (IPC) training and supplies.