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Helping Hands, Latter-day Saint Charities prepare to help tornado victims

Aid headed to Kentucky, Tennessee and other states struck by flurry of tornadoes last week

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People survey damage from a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday. Tornadoes struck six states on Friday night.

People survey damage from a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across six states late Friday. At least 88 people have been confirmed dead.

Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

Helping Hands volunteers will help disaster victims in multiple states and Latter-day Saint Charities will send food, clothing and equipment for cleanup efforts after what the Weather Channel called the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak in a decade.

“Our brothers and sisters in Kentucky, Tennessee and surrounding states are bruised but not forever broken,” said Elder Jared W. Stone, an Area Seventy in the North America Southeast Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The landscape of these states has been beaten down, but communities will rise from the depths of destruction through faith in God, hard work and a helping hand from friends near and far.”

Elder Stone said disaster relief volunteers in yellow Helping Hands shirts or vests will begin to clear debris from homes, perform flood damage mitigation and install tarps on roofs over the next few days, according to a news release issued by the church.

Helping Hands volunteers provide their services at no cost.

Some Latter-day Saint church buildings suffered minor damage and some church members lost their entire homes and places of business, Elder Stone said, but none lost their lives and all missionaries in the areas where the tornadoes struck are safe.

“Still, we are mindful that many friends and neighbors are grieving the loss of loved ones, and we mourn with them.” Elder Stone said.

The tornadoes killed at least 88 people who are confirmed dead as they tore through Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Mississippi, the Weather Channel reported. More than 100 people remain missing in Kentucky alone.

Latter-day Saint Charities will donate food boxes, clothes, water and cleaning kits to help victims. It also will send chainsaws, hand trucks, debris sleds and tarps for Helping Hands volunteers to use as they provide disaster relief, said Rick Long, a Welfare and Self-Reliance manager for the church.

Helping Hands volunteers clean up debris and fallen trees caused by Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on Oct. 18, 2020.

Mason Sagers of Canton, Georgia, works with other Helping Hands volunteers to clean up debris and fallen trees caused by Hurricane Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on Oct. 18, 2020. The hurricane brought 100 mph winds and millions of dollars in damage to homes and property in the region.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Tornado survivors who need assistance at their residence can call the Crisis Cleanup hotline at 1-800-451-1954. Crisis Cleanup is a collaborative work-order management platform used by many disaster relief organizations. All services are free. Volunteers from around the country donate time to answer calls from survivors and catalog work orders.

The volunteers “are anxious to serve and do as our Savior, Jesus Christ, taught — to bear one another’s burdens,” Elder Stone said. “We have the sacred opportunity to love our neighbor and be His helping hands here on earth.”

Helping Hands volunteers have aided victims of disaster and other emergencies around the world since 1998.