Everyone is certainly aware of the tragedy in Western Kentucky, and the devastation that occurred earlier this month. Though not the Appalachian region, these are our neighbors directly west of Appalachia and southwest of urban Appalachians, and this is of immediate concern for the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition. It is crucial that we extend all the help we are able to muster for our families, friends, and neighbors in Western Kentucky.

The tornadoes that struck Western Kentucky on December 10 were the most destructive to ever hit the Commonwealth. As of December 20, the number of people killed by the tornadoes is 76. Hundreds of people had their homes destroyed, and hundreds more are without jobs as the tornadoes devastated structures across the region. This is an unprecedented disaster in western Kentucky with the strongest tornado ever recorded in the State of Kentucky.

Mayfield and Bowling Green appear to be the hardest hit areas in Western Kentucky, but the storm spread across the entire region. The main track of the tornadoes appears to have swept through Logan, Warren, Edmonson, Hart, Green, Taylor and Marion Counties. The National Weather Service described one of the tornadoes as a “long-track tornado” that was on the ground for more than 200 miles. The devastation is nearly unimaginable, and it is not possible to over-emphasize the needs of those who have been impacted by the storm.

Now that it is officially winter, people who have lost homes are in dire need. Donation centers in greater Lexington are asking for things like new space heaters, LED lanterns, large plastic storage containers, and flashlights with batteries (a link is provided below for the Lexington, Kentucky tornado relief with a full list of needed items).   

As time passes, these tragedies fall out of the headlines, but the needs of people remain just as pressing. As a way of consolidating a long list of relief agencies and workers into one place, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth provide this link bit.ly/WKYDEC21 that will direct you to groups that are providing valuable resources for the storm victims, and will provide directions on how to make donations.

Locally, Matthew 25 Ministries has teamed with Beechwood Schools to collect needed items. They have partnered with the city of Fort Mitchell to fill a semi-truck that will take these items directly to Mayfield Kentucky. You can drop off donations at Beechwood Schools. They are specifically asking for the following items: 

  • Bottled water
  • Personal-care products: soap, toothpaste, sanitizer, shampoo, feminine hygiene products
  • Cleaning supplies: detergent, toilet paper, paper towels
  • Baby products: diapers, wipes, etc.
  • First aid items: bandages, gauze, tape, antiseptic, gloves
  • School snacks and non-perishable food items
  • Toys, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, socks
  • Flashlights, headlamps, batteries

You can give monetary donations through the Team Western Kentucky Donation Fund: https://secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/Finance/WKYRelief.

Locally, the Village TheaterMike’s Music Production and Mike Reeder have planned the Music for Mayfield Tornado Relief Fundraiser for Sunday, January 16, 2022 from 2 PM – 9:30 PM at 635 Main St, in Covington. I spoke to Mike Reeder who explained that they “recently opened our Covington Kentucky Mainstrasse location ‘Mike’s Music Productions’ which houses our production division and is home to our shows we air on our YouTube page such as FRET BUZZ and Guitar Picker.” For people who may not know, Mike’s Music has long been a fixture of Covington’s Mainstrasse area. It is a bit of a mecca for musicians. Mike said they have also branched into a live theater called The Village Theater. “When the tragedy happened, I and Jeremy Moore, co-manager of the media events at the theater, decided it seemed fitting that we shift all funds to the families in need and have a benefit. I personally have family in southern Kentucky and friends in that area that have been affected. Seeing and hearing about the tragedy so close and with so many in need we felt that we could do a small part and host this event.”

Reeder and Moore plan to directly contact the mayor of Mayfield to find out how best to direct resources. They are asking for a minimum $5 donation at the door to go toward donations. They are also planning raffles and possibly auctions to raise more money for the victims of the tragedy. More information on The Music for Mayfield Tornado Relief Fundraiser is available Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1351561138619281/

There are tremendous efforts underway to provide assistance to the people of Western Kentucky. One might say that the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition is founded on the work of pitching in to help our neighbors. As time passes it seems increasingly important to remember that the needs of people impacted by the storms in Western Kentucky remain urgent. We are a long way from rebuilding and getting people back into homes and back to work. While there are state and federal agencies stepping in to provide assistance, we also know that neighbors helping neighbors is how we lift each other up during times of crisis.

Western Kentucky Tornado Relief: https://www.lexingtonky.gov/tornadorelief.

Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. Check out his profile in UACC’s new Cultural Directory. He lives in downtown Cincinnati with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city snapping photos. She looks up at that the grandeur of the city, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.

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